The ITUC’s 2023 Global Rights Index has revealed that a staggering €1 billion has gone to companies that have undermined workers’ fundamental rights. MEP and European Parliament Vice-President Dimitrios Papadimoulis (The Left, Greece) has written to the EU Commission demanding clarification.
UNI Europa considers the Commission’s response to be highly unsatisfactory. It is proposing soft law and best practice guidelines to explain the situation, rather than recognising the systemic nature of the problem affecting workers across Europe. As dissent grows, the need for more substantial action is clear. The substantial financial support given to companies that violate rights calls for a stronger, more effective solution.
Review the Public Procurement Directives
To address this pressing issue, MEP and Vice-President of the European Parliament Dimitrios Papadimoulis asks about the possibility of revising the Public Procurement Directives. He suggests that only companies that respect labour rights and where workers have collective agreements should receive public funds. Papadimoulis is one of 160 MEPs who have endorsed UNI Europa’s #ProcuringDecentWork pledge, which aims to ensure that public contracts are only awarded to companies that respect decent work standards and collective agreements.
Public procurement in the EU is worth €2 trillion a year (14% of GDP). Half of public tenders are awarded on the basis of the lowest price alone, without any other consideration. As a result, public money is fuelling a race to the bottom for working people. Companies that are most willing to bypass workplace democracy and undercut wages and labour costs are rewarded with public contracts.
Trade unions insist that public money is essential to guarantee decent work. A minimum level of decency for workers would be ensured by awarding public contracts only to companies with collective bargaining agreements.
Time for action
As concerns mount, concrete action is essential. The European Commission has the power to bring about real change. While soft law guidelines and best practices have their place, stronger measures are needed to match the seriousness of the problem. It is time to move beyond words and implement changes that resonate deeply.