A cautious welcome for the European Labour Authority

Wednesday 14 March 2018

UNI Europa cautiously welcomes the Commission’s Social Fairness Package and proposal for a European Labour Authority. Over the years, UNI Europa have campaigned relentlessly for a Social Europe and for the Juncker Commission to deliver concrete social solutions for its citizens. After years of austerity, in which social rights were abused and ignored, it is high time the European Union proves that it is serious about improving the living and working conditions of its citizens.

A European Labour Authority could play a key role in this by monitoring the implementation of and helping better enforce EU legislation, including signalling irregularities and cases of non-compliance. It could support national authorities and help them to improve the national implementation of EU law. The ELA could help solve problems arising from cross-border labour mobility such as social dumping, letterbox companies or bogus self-employment. With 17 million Europeans now working and living in another EU country and an additional 1.4 million crossing a border every day for work, it’s a question of fairness that the EU rules to protect workers are enforced in the same way as are rules for banks or companies.

Oliver Roethig, Regional Secretary of UNI Europa, states that “a clear role for social partners must be ensured, and the Authority must under no circumstances be used to interfere with social partner autonomy nor undermine national systems. It should contribute to and complement the tasks of national authorities and other competent bodies, but it should not replace them. To ensure that the autonomy of social partners and the involvement of trade unions in national inspection and enforcement systems are respected, the social partners must be part of a tripartite supervisory body of the new European Labour Authority. Collective bargaining and collective agreements must be upheld in the highest regard.”

UNI Europa believes that a recommendation on access to social protection is simply not enough and are sceptical that such large and important goals can attained with just recommendations. The ELA proposal is a very small step in the right direction to make the European Pillar of Social Rights real and present, rather than just another soundbite. This proposal must immediately be translated into laws and concrete measures, backed-up by sufficient resources.

At the moment the Single Market has, too often, negative consequences for workers. UNI Europa needs to ensure that the ELA is an effective and efficient body and not just another talking shop or a platform to exchange best practices. As such, it must address the clear problems that the Single Market brings for national labour markets and deliver for workers.

UNI Europa wants a strong European Labour Authority with a robust mandate to protect European workers. The fight for better and stronger social rights, to cope with new challenges and to combat growing inequalities, continues with the correct implementation of the European Labour Authority.