European Commissioners deny 9.8 million workers EU legal minimum standards on information and consultation rights

Yesterday the European Commission sent a formal reply to EPSU, CESI and the employers of the central administration. In this formal letter the EC rejects the social partner’s request to the European Commission to present their agreement to the Council.

Below is the press release that has been sent today to the press in Brussels and across Europe.

(Brussels 7 March 2018, EPSU/CESI joint press release)

The Commission has informed the European central government social partners yesterday that it will not  bring their agreement to the European Council for implementation as a directive. The agreement seeks to plug a gap in EU legislation that excludes workers in central government administrations from the EU right to information and consultation.

Four months after the European Pillar of Social Rights was proclaimed which sets out rights for all workers in the EU to information and consultation, the European Commission refuses to propose legislation to the European Council on these rights for 9.8 million employees in central government despite being requested to do so by the European social partners. The social partners, reached this landmark agreement on information and consultation rights on 21 December 2015.

After years of imposed cuts in jobs, wages and trade union rights in public administrations, the trade union priority has been to regain fundamental workers’ rights to information and consultation and to rebuild trust in social dialogue as a key tool to improve the quality of public administration in the EU. This agreement responded to these concerns by bringing  EU-level minimum standards on information and consultation rights in legislation. Social partners acted in line with the procedure spell out in the EU Treaty that started with a Commission consultation in April 2015.

In an unprecedented decision, the Commission has refused to forward the social partner agreement to the EU Council, preempting the possibility for the Council to publicly state its position.

Britta Lejon, President of the EPSU National and EU Administration (NEA) committee and chief negotiator of the Agreement and President of TUNED, added “The Commission welcomed the Agreement two years ago and Commissioner Thyssen informed us that an impact assessment of the agreement would be carried out. Since then it has moved from no transparency on the decision-making process to a rejection. Just four months after the EU Social Pillar was agreed, this decision is extremely disappointing.“

Jan Willem Goudriaan, EPSU General Secretary, states: “It is an affront to  social partners’ rights as co-legislators and the Commission’s and Council’s duty in relation to social dialogue as enshrined in the treaties since 1993.The decision has been done without evidence and  in an arbitrary manner. They have neglected its internal rules including Better Regulation. It is the behaviour of public administration at its worst, it undermines the work of those civil servants working for Europe’s future. This is shameful of Thyssen and Juncker”.

Klaus Heeger, CESI General Secretary declares: “This is a double attack. It is an attack on the EU principle of equal treatment of workers. Why should public administration workers not enjoy the same EU legal protection for information and consultation rights as other workers? And  it is an attack on the right to a transparent decision-making process. The implications are very damaging for trade unions and the future of sectoral social dialogue at EU level”.

For information Pablo Sanchez +32 474 626 633

EPSU is the European Federation of Public Service Unions. It is the largest federation of the ETUC and comprises 8 million public service workers from over 260 trade unions; EPSU organises workers in the energy, water and waste sectors, health and social services and local, regional and central government,

CESI is the European Confederation of Independent Trade Unions, composed of 38 trade union organizations and 4 European trade union organizations, with a total of more than 5 million workers. CESI’s affiliates are employed in the field of central, regional and local administration, security and justice, education, training and research, healthcare, postal services and telecommunications, defense and transport.

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