The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has adopted the opinion Decent minimum wages across Europe following the European Parliament's request for an exploratory opinion. The request was made after the Commission announced that it was considering proposing a legal instrument to ensure that every EU worker is entitled to a minimum wage allowing a decent standard of living.
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The European Union is facing the worst recession in its history due to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we must ensure that it does not turn into a social emergency and that workers do not pay the price. The EESC opinion Decent minimum wages across Europe, requested by the European Parliament, evaluates the wage landscape and possible ways to guarantee that every worker in Europe benefits from a fair minimum wage. Action at EU level could bring added value by ensuring that Member States cannot set their statutory minimum wages below a decency threshold set well above the poverty threshold, thus ensuring that it is not only a minimum wage, but also a living one.
This study examines the impact on the automatic stabilisation properties of national unemployment benefit systems of a European policy initiative that would introduce minimum standards to those systems.
After 4 days of deliberation –and many months of fruitless meetings- the European Council has finally reached an agreement for the MFF and the EU Recovery Plan. Having €750bn through a common debt instrument is a historic achievement, as it offers a real chance for recovery to countries without adding more national debt. Moreover, a long-standing demand of the EESC, for the EU to finance itself through its own resources, is finally on the way to become a reality. Negotiations were complicated and the deal was better than it could have been; for this, the Workers' Group thanks the Commission and Council presidents, and the work of many member states, in making this agreement a possibility.
On July 1st, Germany assumes the presidency of the EU Council, facing the worst health, social, and economic crisis the EU has seen in its existence. The EU and its member states, crippled by years of austerity and nationalism, stand ill-prepared to face it. Only firm commitment to solidarity and social and environmental sustainability, taking onboard the social partners, can prevent the worst parts of the crisis, and ensure a recovery towards a fairer, more sustainable Europe.
The alarming outbreaks of corona infections in the German meat industry discredit this sector and put the European food industry in a bad light. The meat industry, especially in Germany, benefits from low-cost workforce from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe by employing non-transparent labour practices. The term "modern slavery" is often used in this context. Due to the shocking spread of the corona virus among employees in various slaughterhouses in Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria, North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony, their miserable working conditions have once again been brought to the fore.
Clapping was good, but now we need a recovery plan that strengthens our public services and its workforce
Public sector workers are usually unsung and invisible heroes. When everything goes well, we generally take them and the work they do for granted despite its impact on almost every aspect of our lives. However, when things go wrong, we notice: they are often in the firing line for our complaints – many are even the victims of violence and harassment just for trying to do their jobs.
"The crisis has made it very clear that what we need is the reconstruction of our society, not just a recovery and an exit plan after COVID-19", pointed out Stefano Palmieri, President of the EESC's section for economic issues. Stefano Palmieri, representing the Workers' Group, was in charge of drafting this resolution along with two other rapporteurs representing the Employers' Group and the Diversity Group respectively.
The world is experiencing its biggest crisis in peacetime in the last 90 years. To overcome the current crisis, and to be prepared for any other that might come, Europe must focus its effort to rebuild its social, political and economic structure on four criteria: Solidarity, sustainability, safeguarding employment and income and participation. The stronger, the more inclusive, the more social and the more sustainable the recovery measures are and the more they are tailored to the situation of the Member States and their populations, the more credible Europe will be and the more capable to rise to the unprecedented challenges we face in this crisis. Europe has now the possibility and the opportunity to build another world.
On Monday 11th of May, the Workers' Group is hosting a webinar on the different strategies to exit the current Covid crisis.