An ETUC analysis shows that almost three million people low-paid workers across Europe can’t afford to heat their homes. The ETUC estimates that even before expected further increases in energy prices 15% of Europe’s working poor won’t be able to turn on the heating – equivalent to 2,713,578 people across Europe. The analysis also shows that the situation has deteriorated in 10 EU member states over the last decade. With the directive on adequate minimum wages now being discussed in the European Council and Parliament, the ETUC argues that energy price rises make strong EU action on wages even
Low pay/minimum wages, Europe
An analysis by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) reveals that workers receiving poverty-level pay are among the 35 million of the poorest Europeans who can’t afford a summer holiday. Overall, 28% of EU citizens can’t afford a one-week holiday away from home – but that rises to 59.5% for people whose income is below the at-risk-of-poverty threshold (60% of the median). The worst situation is in Greece where 88.9% of people living at risk of poverty couldn’t afford a break, followed by Romania (86.8%), Croatia (84.7%), Cyprus (79.2%) and Slovakia (76.1%). The ETUC says that many
The Eurofound research agency’s overview of minimum wage increases in 2021 finds lower increases than in 2020 but still with six countries in Central and Eastern Europe – Latvia, Slovenia, Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Lithuania – increasing rates by over 5%. Increases of 1%-5% were recorded in 11 Member States while rates were frozen in Belgium, Spain, Greece and Estonia. However, the cross-sector negotiations in Belgium recently included a commitment to increase the minimum in stages over the next six years. The median increase this year across Europe at 3% is well below the 8.4% figure for
Workers in half of EU member states are denied the full statutory minimum wage because of their age, occupation or because they are workers with a disability, ETUC research has found. Age is the most common criterion with eight member states deducting up to 70% of the real rate for under-21s. Some member states also allow discrimination against seasonal workers, domestic workers, seafarers or workers with disabilities. The European Commission’s impact assessment of its draft directive on adequate minimum wages states that, rather than facilitating access to the labour market, variations from
Leading economists from across Europe have expressed their support for an effective directive on adequate minimum wages that would not only deliver higher pay but greater collective bargaining protection for millions of workers. The conclusion of the letter says that: “The proposed Directive is a step in the right direction, but stronger measures are needed to guarantee the respect of the right to collective bargaining for unions to negotiate better pay and conditions for workers and raise statutory minimum wages to a level which ensures at least a decent standard of living. Adequate minimum
In February this year, the Supreme Court in the UK ruled that Uber, the driving, and delivery platform, should treat its drivers as workers and not as self-employed. This follows a trend across Europe where courts in several countries have forced digital platforms to revise the employment relationship with the workers providing their services. Platform work is changing the economic and social landscape, revolutionising the way services are delivered while raising major questions about social and labour rights.
The ETUC wants to get down to work on the minimum wage directive following the long-awaited opinion from the EU Council's legal service. The opinion confirms what the ETUC has been arguing all along that a directive is possible and legally based on the protection of working conditions (Article 153(1)(b) TFEU in conjunction with Article 153(2) TFEU). The ETUC is now calling on governments to deliver and work towards a directive that will make it possible “for workers on minimum wages to make ends meet, to pay the rent, to put food on the table for them and their families.” The ETUC added: “The
More than 24 million workers on low wages in the EU would get a pay rise if trade union proposals for the EU’s draft Directive on Adequate Minimum Wages are accepted. The ETUC is calling for a specific threshold to be included in the directive which would mean no statutory minimum wages could be set below 60% of the national median wage and 50% of the national average wage in each Member State that has a legal minimum wage. At the moment, the European Commission has only included the threshold in the draft directive as an indicative guide. ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch said: “A
The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has highlighted the growth in in-work poverty across Europe in support of its call for a strong and effective directive on minimum wages and collective bargaining. Sixteen countries saw the rate increase between 2010 and 2018 with Hungary, the UK, Estonia and Italy seeing the largest rises. The figures come from the latest annual ETUI/ETUC Benchmarking Working Europe 2020 report which also shows that just four member states have statutory minimum wages above the at-risk-of-poverty wage threshold. ETUC demands for the directive include a minimum
A new report by the Eurofound research organisation examines the long-term care sector and the challenges of low pay and difficult working conditions faced by workers, 80% of whom are women. The report indicates that there is good collective bargaining coverage in some countries, but this is often mainly in the public sector with low coverage in the private, for-profit sector and particularly low coverage of home care staff. Low pay, relative to other sectors, even impacts on the more skilled and senior staff and the widespread use of part-time work – double that of other sectors – also means
The latest global wage report from the International Labour Organisation reveals the main trends in pay and minimum wages, highlighting the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in the first half of this year. It notes a downward pressure on the level or growth rate of average wages in two thirds of the countries for which recent data are available. In other countries, including France and Italy, average wages increased, largely artificially as a reflection of the substantial job losses among lower-paid workers. The report also shows that women workers and low-paid workers generally have been
With the European Commission expected to publish its draft directive on fair minimum wages on 28 October, the ETUC has put together a range of documents and press releases that cover a wide range of arguments in favour of legislation on minimum wages and collective bargaining. The ETUC argues that initiatives to boost pay and strengthen collective bargaining are essential as part of the response to the pandemic and that it is crucial not to repeat the mistakes following the last crisis when collective bargaining was undermined in some countries as part of austerity measures.
The ETUC has welcomed statements from European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that she supports collective bargaining and decent minimum wages, however, it wants to see the concrete details which are not expected to be revealed before 28 October. Von der Leyen's State of the European Union speech refers to the problem of low pay while in an interview in Sweden she underlined her support for collective bargaining. She also stressed that the Commission would guarantee protection for strong collective bargaining systems like those in Sweden and would not force the introduction of
ETUC Executive Committee members have voted by a large majority in support of the Confederation's submission to the European Commission's second stage consultation on fair minimum wages. In the submission, the ETUC calls for a directive that sets a minimum level for national minimum wages across Europe and introduces measures to strengthen and promote collective bargaining. The document also underlines the importance of not introducing any provisions that might undermine industrial relations systems where collective bargaining is strong and where social partners do not support the introduction
Data from the Wage Indicator pay database covering five countries reveals that many of the key workers who have been on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 are on below)average wages. The research looked at nine jobs in childcare, call centres, retail, nursing, admin, logistics, warehouses and transport in the UK, German, Netherlands, France and Sweden. In the UK all occupations fell below the national average wage while in Germany it was all but one and in the Netherlands all but two. The situation for these workers was better in France and Sweden.