European Pillar of Social Rights falls far short for workers

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Today, the European Commission published its long awaited recommendation on the European Pillar of Social Rights as well as its Reflection Paper on the Social Dimension of Europe.

UNI Europa knows how much workers need a social Europe, one that stands up for them and their rights. But in reality, these proposals look like just more empty promises and are missing the robust and legally binding elements necessary to make a real difference for working people in Europe.

‘With today’s proposals the Commission is trying to sell us a Social Europe with junk rating as a AAA Social Europe’, said Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa.

‘The Commission has missed the point. Instead of coming forward with concrete solutions to the real problems faced by workers, it has published a complicated maze of seventeen documents that, with the exception of the promise to legislate on Parental Leave, does not amount to anything like the type of solutions workers need and were expecting to see.

‘The European Pillar of Social Rights must include a real and comprehensive EU social action programme. We need binding measures on collective bargaining, social dumping and digitalisation,’ said Roethig. ‘At this point, window dressing with fluffy words is simply not good enough and actually paves the way for businesses to continue to exploit workers.’

The Commission singles out the services sector as key for creating jobs and employing people with higher qualifications. ‘The services sector is indeed the backbone of our labour markets but the Commission forgets that it is under considerable strain,’ added Roethig, ‘with 15-20% of current service work expected to disappear by 2030.’

Already today, an ever increasing number of services workers, and crowd workers in particular, are trapped in a never ending round of insecure employment contracts that leave them unable to know from week to week if they will be able to pay the rent. [1]

‘The Juncker Commission praises itself for fighting for a AAA social Europe and relaunching social dialogue. For trade unions, this continues to sound hollow as long as the Commission does not ensure that the social partner agreement on health and safety in the hairdressing sector becomes law – 5 years and counting, waiting for a decision to be made, is bad administrative practice and more red tape.’

UNI Europa firmly believes that the European Pillar of Social Rights can set Europe back on track, but only if it provides a credible promise of hope for working people. Our ambition must be for working life once again to provide a positive and predictable future, based on fairness, progress and social safety. We need a Europe where social and employment rights take precedence over unrestricted capital, where the labour market is fit for purpose for workers, not just for companies.

It is time for the Commission to stop playing around and take its responsibilities seriously.

Read here a Q&A with Oliver Roethig on the European Pillar of Social Rights
Watch here a video outlining the UNI Europa position on the European Pillar of Social Rights

[1] Crowd working is quickly increasing and a substantial number of crowd workers already make more than half of their income from such work i.e. ranging from 1.7% to 2.9% of the entire national workforce.

Note to editors

UNI Europa, the Europan services workers union

As the European trade union federation for 7 million service workers, UNI Europa speaks for the sectors that constitute the backbone of economic and social life in Europe. Headquartered in the heart of Brussels, UNI Europa represents 272 national trade unions in 50 countries, including: Commerce, Banking Insurance and Central Banks, Gaming, Graphical and Packaging, Hair and Beauty, Information and Communication Technology Services, Media, Entertainment and Arts, Postal Services and Logistics, Private Care and Social Insurance, Industrial Cleaning and Private Security, Professional Sport and Leisure, Professionals/Managers and Temporary Agency Workers. UNI Europa represents the largest region in UNI Global Union.