UNI Europa demands for Juncker’s final State of the Union

Tuesday 11 September 2018

In the face of rising populism and right-wing extremism, as showcased by recent European elections, it is essential that the European Union holds as strong as ever in the face of adversity.

UNI Europa supports the calls from the ETUC for a European-wide alliance between parties, politicians, social partners and civil society organisations to support democratic values and tackle populism, nationalism and racism. However, protecting Europe cannot be based only on security, defence and border controls. Protecting Europe also means protecting its citizens from inequality, poverty and injustice.

UNI Europa’s key demand from Juncker is a comprehensive and legally binding EU social action programme encompassing legislation, policy-making and financial resources and which takes into account of the interests of service workers.

The European Pillar of Social Rights must be fully implemented before the European elections, not least to prove to Europe’s citizens that the Union is committed to a social Europe. Tangible progress is needed towards a AAA Social Europe. Europe cannot afford delays and dillydallying from governments, commitment is needed now.

Wage inequality – the gender pay gap, the east-west pay gap and poverty wages in all countries – must be urgently addressed. Higher wages and upward convergence would boost demand, increase competitiveness, and reduce resentment. The EU needs to move away from a model that continues to build a neo-liberal EU-wide internal market with new business models and new forms of work which hollow out existing labour standards.

Further demands are to:

  • Include a social progress protocol in the next substantive EU Treaty revision.
  • Promote and safeguard workers’ trade union and collective bargaining rights – at EU and national levels and within multinational companies.
  • Ensure that employers cannot evade their existing national and EU obligations towards their workers and that governments cannot or cannot be forced to lower workers’ rights.
  • Respect, support and facilitate the conclusion of EU-level social partner agreements and their transposition into law.
  • Eradicate precarious   work, including   bogus   self-employment, zero-hour contracts and other exploitative arrangements.
  • Involve social partners in EU and national decision-making processes from the inception of legislation with social relevance.
  • Proactively address the labour dimension of digitalisation, which impacts services workers in particular, and ensure a just transition.
  • Substantively increase EU investment programmes with a focus on creating quality jobs and fostering a general pay rise in Europe.
  • Reform social security systems to give decent living standards for all, including for non-standard workers.

Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa, states that “Juncker and the EU should be doing its utmost to support working life with a positive and predictable future for everyone based on fairness, progress and social safety. We need a large, broad workforce with its workers in stable, working and living situations. Precariousness needs to be banished to the past.”

With new EU elections on the horizon, Juncker’s final State of the Union urgently needs to engage with the demands for a Social Europe. Without the Commission radically engaging with social justice, 2019 may prove another bad year for progressive politics.