Labour mobility, posting of workers, European Pillar of Social Rights
"Labour mobility is also sometimes associated with social and wage dumping, and the belief that mobile workers undertake 'welfare tourism'. That is an unfounded belief, and all studies show that mobile workers go where the jobs are, not to exploit social and public services," stated Gonçalo Lobo Xavier, EESC's Vice-President for Communication, speaking at the European Council's informal meeting of Ministers of social affairs and employment in Amsterdam today.
Held under the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU, the informal meeting discussed labour mobility and posting of workers as well as the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Vice-President of the European Economic and Social Committee, the EU assembly representing organised civil society, intervened before national ministers and other European political figures, including the Dutch Deputy Prime Minister, Lodewijk Asscher, who chaired the meeting and Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility.
Mr Lobo Xavier declared: "A distinction must be made between free movement of workers and the freedom for companies to provide services – this is where the posting of workers is very relevant. It is important to strike the right balance between the need to promote companies' freedom and the need to protect the rights of posted workers. Our opinion 'Fairer labour mobility within the EU' reflects this".
The EESC is concerned about the public perception and hostility that is shown in some Member States towards labour mobility. The situation is far from the 'mass movement' referred to by some politicians. The figure 8.3 million mobile workers in the EU still only represents 3,4% of the entire European workforce. Moreover, mobile workers are sometimes more vulnerable to abuse and discrimination with respect to social security, working conditions and wages, access to social benefits and education.
To address these challenges, as well as difficulties in the countries of origin such as 'brain drain', skill shortages and ageing populations, the EESC proposes policies to boost growth and productivity, create high-quality jobs and improve prospects in every Member State. Workers, and especially young people, should be supported to develop their skills and to not remain in jobs for which they are over-qualified.
The Committee also attaches a lot of importance to the construction of the European Pillar of Social Rights and has launched an opinion on the issue. Regarding equal opportunities and access to the labour market, its three proposals are that employers and workers together develop non-discrimination and diversity policies in the workplace, gender-related segregation as contributor to the gender pay gap of 16.4% should be tackled, and work-life balance should be a priority, with workers having the option of choosing their working hours.