EPSU Press Communication: EPSU Executive rejects Monti II Regulation – Labour is not a commodity – Hands off the right to strike
(7 May 2012) The European Commission has proposed a regulation to deal with the right to strike. This has become important as there are more trans-border situations in which employers seek to exploit differences between EU countries in pay and conditions as well as legal protection.
The European Court of Justice ruled in the Laval and Viking cases in favour of limiting the right to strike arguing that the free movement of goods and services is more important. Europe’s union movement has disagreed with these rulings and sought correction of the verdicts through primary legislation such as in a Social Progress Clause to be added to the Treaty. Workers need strong instruments of collective action to protect their pay, conditions, jobs and ultimately their dignity. Labour is not a commodity.
The proposed EU regulation is designed to protect the interests of employers however. It makes the right to strike and stop production less effective. The proposal does recognise a transnational right to strike and it does not start from the European and international legal standards. Documents of the Commission underline that it never had the intention of correcting the negative consequences of the ECJ rulings. It believes the freedom to provide services and the freedom of establishment represent a higher value then the plight of workers. The EPSU Executive representing more than 60 public service trade union leaders has rejected the proposal.
EPSU Deputy General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan: “Tinkering with the right to strike and making it less effective must be the ultimate pipe-dream of European Commissioner Barroso and corporate Europe. It is no coincidence that the Barroso Commission is attacking the right to strike at a time of a massive assault of governments and employers on pay and pensions of public and private sector workers in the EU. It would be far easier to push through their policies if workers and their unions would not stand in the way. We recall that the rights, pay and decent working conditions workers enjoy today have been realized after struggles that involved strikes. Corporate Europe and their political allies never gave anything away out of sheer goodness.”
Europe’s public service union leaders will support actions of the ETUC when required. The proposal was rejected at the EPSU Executive Committee Spring meeting 24 April 2012, Brussels
The position of EPSU (EN FR DE SV ES RU), of ETUC (EN FR) and a legal analysis of the European Trade Union Institute are available at www.epsu.org/a/8689
For more information contact Pablo Sanchez, 00 32 474 62 66 33 psanchez epsu.org