By the EESC Workers' Group

Adequate minimum wages are a key component of social cohesion and combatting in-work poverty and inequality. However, many in Europe work under very harsh conditions, particularly precarious workers. And while in some countries collective bargaining is strong enough to ensure good working conditions, that is not the case everywhere.

The absence of social protection brings dire consequences, particularly when other problems mount, as is currently the case with the brutal health and social crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this context, the European Commission proposal for a directive on an adequate minimum wage in the European Union aims to ensure no one in Europe works without a decent living wage, and that collective bargaining is strengthened and extended, all while respecting the Member States' different traditions in social dialogue. Through national action plans, agreed in a tripartite process with the social partners, upward wage convergence can be attained while combatting pay discrimination of any kind, as well as in-work poverty.

Considering the urgency of the proposal, particularly with the difficulties caused by COVID-19, rapporteur Cinzia del Rio commented: "All workers should get a fair and adequate minimum wage, either set by law or collective bargaining, to allow a decent life and access to social protection. Social and wage dumping, deep wage inequalities, rising in-work poverty, which mostly affects young people, women and disadvantaged groups, have to be addressed with a strong European commitment".

The EESC opinion on the proposed directive, adopted on 25 March 2021 by the EESC plenary, recognises the urgency and need for such a set of measures, the adequacy of and legal grounds for a directive (also corroborated by the EU Council legal assessment), and the clauses ensuring respect for the autonomy of social partners. (prp)