European Commission endangers European social model

(Brussels, January 12) Yesterday the European Trade Union Confederation, by the hand of John Monks, General Secretary, issued a letter (see attached) to the European Commission accusing the EC officials of “are ignoring social dialogue and collective bargaining processes and directly intervening in the labour markets of these countries. Diktats are being issued which are designed to lower living standards. Thus proposals are coming from the Commission which are designed to cut minimum wages and reduce wage “rigidities”, cut pension entitlements, make labour markets more flexible, and in Ireland’s case provide for wages to reflect “market conditions” (The words in quotation marks are quotes from correspondence from Mr. Szekely of DG Economic and Financial Affairs).

I should not have to remind you that this policy of detailed interference in labour markets tramples all over pious commission statements about the autonomy of the social partners, the importance of social dialogue and the specific exclusion in the EU treaties of a European competence on pay”.

The European Federation of Public Services Unions (EPSU) fully supports the anger expressed by ETUC General Secretary John Monks over the interference of Commission officials in collective bargaining processes in Member States. EPSU Deputy General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan states: “It will increasingly be difficult for workers and their unions to support the EU process if consistently used to undermine their positions and weaken their rights, and now even reduce pay. Many Member State governments are imposing wage freezes, job and pay cuts and ignoring negotiations with the unions. It is appalling that Commission staff encourages them to do so.”

EPSU Congress in June 2009 argued that if the European Commission and Council abuse internal market and competition rules to limit the use of trade union rights and relegate social objectives to a second level, EPSU will oppose any further progress towards the internal market and EU integration until a substantial social agenda is introduced to bring Social Europe forward. EPSU wants an EU that ensures that principles of social justice, trade union and human rights take preference over competition rules, and trade in Europe and elsewhere. EPSU wants internal market and competition rules to contribute towards a socially just society, not that these rules are misused and abused to limit the exercise of these rights and limit progress towards a socially just society in the EU itself, in EU external policy, or by other governments in Europe. The European Social Model is a central part of the European project based on the protection of fundamental social rights, including the right to organize in trade unions, the right to negotiate collective agreements, the right to strike, the right to fair working conditions, equality and non-discrimination.

For more information: Pablo Sanchez, [psanchez@epsu.org-> mailto:psanchez@epsu.org], 00 32 4 74 62 66 33






- ETUC press release on the letter to Olli Rehn


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 250 trade unions; EPSU organises workers in the energy, water and waste sectors, health and social services and local and national administration, in all European countries including in the EU’s Eastern Neighbourhood. EPSU is the recognized regional organization of Public Services International (PSI).

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