by the EESC's Workers' Group
The Workers' Group held an extraordinary meeting in Bucharest, Romania on 25 June, focusing on labour rights and social convergence: a Europe of common values. Oliver Röpke, the Workers' Group president, congratulated the Romanian Presidency for several achievements that were crucial to improve working people's lives, such as the establishment of the European Labour Authority and the directives on work-life balance and transparent and predictable working conditions.
Discussions focused on key challenges relating to labour mobility, employment and convergence of social rights in the European Union. Marius-Constantin Budăi, Romania's Minister of Labour and Social Justice, stressed that economic convergence was needed and, in particular, that the pay gap between western and eastern countries had to be reduced.
Several speakers referred to the European Pillar of Social Rights, which, if properly implemented, could lead to upward convergence. The leaders of the five Romanian trade union confederations highlighted the employment and social challenges in Romania, notably high poverty levels, low wages, problems regarding collective bargaining and social dialogue, and high levels of emigration.
On labour mobility, they pointed out that even though it can contribute to economic growth and help address skills gaps in the EU, the loss of too many qualified workers can have a detrimental impact on the home countries, as was the case in Romania, where three million people had emigrated in search of better living conditions. (mg)
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