EPSU urges MEPs to reject differentiated treatment for emergency service workers in plenary vote on Transparency and Predictable Working Conditions Directive

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(19 October 2018) The Employment Committee adopted its position regarding the Commission’s proposal to improve transparency and predictability of working conditions for all European workers, 18 October.  It agreed important improvements and clarifications of the Commission’s proposal. On one aspect it makes matters worse.

An amendment to the Commission’s proposal allows Member States to adopt differentiated – that is: unequal -  treatment for workers in the army, in the police and in other emergency services. These workers could potentially be excluded from the protections the Directive offers to other workers.

EPSU’s General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan “This directive must apply to ALL workers. This is the very objective of putting EU minimum social standards in place. Parliament offers no justification why for example  a doctor, a nurse or other medical staff called upon to assist in an emergency  - should have different treatment from medical professionals doing their day to day jobs.  It is absurd that those workers do not have protection against exploitation by the employer during their probation and training for example. “

He adds: “ We ask the MEPs to reject this special regime in their plenary vote. These are the very workers that risk their life to protect us, save us, care for us in the case of accidents, natural disasters and more. They deserve protection from exploitative employers. Those workers are certainly  not overprotected. On the contrary many of them do excessive long hours,  increasingly have precarious employment contracts and see limits to trade union rights

There is no definition of emergency services at EU level. Many workers in public and private sector are called upon to respond to emergencies. This ranges from army and police, to doctors, nurses and other medical staff, to water engineers, electricians, refuse collectors etc. But emergencies are not the norm and do not justify differentiated treatment regarding probation, training etc. And if there is a need for adaptation,  the proposal of the Commission already provides sufficient flexibility and mechanisms to do so subject to negotiations with the unions.

The ILO guidelines on decent work in  public emergency services adopted last April reaffirm that those millions of workers should benefit from fundamental rights that apply to all workers. The EU should respect those ILO guidelines.

The amendment is completely superfluous, confusing, discriminates without justification against millions of workers.

For background