Single Market Emergency Instrument must guarantee right to strike

Single Market Emergency Instrument must guarantee right to strike

UNI Europa has reacted to the European Commission’s move to repeal a regulation which protects the right to strike in the Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI).

Oliver Roethig, UNI Europa Regional Secretary, said:

The pandemic showed that when workers have a strong union voice, they use it to swiftly bring in safety measures for themselves and their communities. Unions are first and foremost about reaching collective bargaining agreements that work for everyone. While striking is always a last resort, in some cases it is the only way to reach an agreement.

We must learn from the experience of the last three years. It is through striking or threatening to do so that many essential workers secured protective equipment and safety protocols during the pandemic. Only when they threatened strike action, were supermarket workers in the Netherlands guaranteed maximum quotas for how many clients can be in the shop at any one time. In Poland, nursing home workers relied on their right to strike to get their employer to implement safe staffing levels. There are countless more examples of the right to strike being leveraged to direct emergency funding for safety measures on the pandemic’s frontline.

As the trade union for many essential workers, we are alarmed of the European Commission’s move to jeopardize the right to strike in the Single Market Emergency Instrument. It is essential that the tools workers have to hold employers accountable are guaranteed during emergencies. The European Commission has no business undermining people’s right to strike. It is by giving people a say through collective bargaining that we secure safe environment for workers and the communities they serve. We echo the ETUC’s call for binding language to protect the right to strike in this draft legislation.”

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