On 12 and 13 October 2016, the Workers’ Group held its extraordinary meeting in Bratislava.
The first part of the meeting, which took place in the afternoon of 12 October, was devoted to an evaluation of the priorities and programme of the Slovak Presidency and to social developments in that country. After an introductory speech by Gabriele Bischoff, President of the Workers' Group, representatives of the Slovak government, the Slovak trade unions and the world of research reported on the situation in this country where the growth rate is among the highest in Europe but the wages still relatively low. The representatives of the Slovak government who participated in the discussions included Prime Minister Robert Fico, Peter Žiga, Minister of Economy, and Ivan Švejna, Minister of Labour, Social Affairs and Family. Jozef Kollár, President of the confederation of trade unions KOZ SR, also attended.
Another major subject of discussion was the future of the EU project and the risk of failure of the EU's achievements over the last 60 years, in particular in terms of fundamental rights and values. The debate took place on 13 October and was introduced by Georges Dassis, President of the EESC. If the EU is to restore the confidence of its citizens in it, it desperately needs to come up with a positive project for its workers and Mr Dassis addressed this issue focusing in particular on the need for Europe to guarantee fair living and working conditions for its workers and citizens. In this context, the Group debated workers' mobility as one of today’s most controversial issues in European policy-making.
Talking about the current revision of the directive on posting of workers, Gabriele Bischoff said: "Freedom of movement, although a fundamental right guaranteed by the treaties, has triggered fears of social and wage dumping shared by citizens across the EU that are actually the result of the exploitation of those workers. The answer that Europe will provide to this question will define its future direction".
Speakers on this topic included Emil Machyna, President of the OZ KOVO and EESC Workers' Group member, Jan Cremers, Researcher at the Tilburg Law School, Jackie Morin, Head of Unit for "Free movement of Workers" at the European Commission, Liina Carr, ETUC Confederal Secretary, and Cinzia Del Rio, member of the Workers' Group.Address: Hotel SOREA Regia, Kráľovské údolie 6, 811 02 Bratislava, SR