European People’s Party cannot be trusted to protect and improve the Working Time Directive

Tuesday, 11 December, 2018

Protests against the Hungarian Government’s decision to make workers do more overtime continued in Budapest last week. People were angry with the adoption of rules that allow employers to demand workers to do more overtime (up to 10 extra weeks of work!) without adequate compensation. Orban’s party pushed through the changes despite widespread opposition. His party is a member of the European People’s Party (EPP). Can that party be trusted with protecting the EU’s  working time legislation? The EPP Spitzenkandidate Manfred Weber has not raised his voice against Orban’s proposals to extend working hours with less protection. We have expressed our solidarity with Hungarian workers and their unions in the struggle they face.

Anger runs high in other countries. The gilets jaunes (yellow vests) continued their protests in France and Belgium. They are raising a broader range of social issues. Workers see rising inequalities and the rich benefiting from changes in the world of work. Governments are unwilling to address this growing equality gap by measures to redistribute wealth. For example, proposals for a European tax on the Tech companies and their shareholders who benefit from digital technologies have not been agreed.  

We discussed fair taxation with Commissioner Vestager over the McDonald’s decision. Quite clearly the Commissioner agrees that companies should pay their fair share of taxes to contribute to finance social protection and public services. That meeting was the last high level meeting of this year. We end this eventful year with a number of grave concerns. Governments and political parties that oppose the Global Compact for Migration play on peoples fears and insecurities, offering few proposals to make this a better world for all. The Summit in Katowice did not reach the hoped-for breakthroughs and could not agree more ambitious measures to address climate change.  

And yet  –  are there not deeply optimistic protests and resistance that can be built on in the New Year?  Like the inspiring fight of the Glasgow women? The endurance of our Turkish union comrades against a repressive Government? The long fight of the sacked trade union colleague in the elderly care company ORPEA? The solidarity EPSU members and others have been showing during these and many other fights? There is much hope and expectations that together we can change things. Protestors want to achieve a better world where people have homes and public services,  where violence against women is stopped and inequalities ended. For all of this and much more, we will campaign in the European Parliament elections in May 2019 – fighting racism, advocating for change, for social progress and justice and for public services that build our economies and societies. It is what we will be discussing at Congress in Dublin. EPSU staff and I look forward to meet so many of you there and during the New Year.

I thank the staff at EPSU for delivering so many results. What a good job you do.

And thank you, our union colleagues across Europe all for the work done this past year to stand up for our members, for workers, for our communities. We have done great work this past year. Together we kept up the pressure for a Europe of and for workers, a Europe in which people come before profits. Redistribution of wealth and equality will top the agenda in 2019 and I wish you and all of us much success in ‘Fighting for A Future for All’. Much health to you all, to your families, to your friends and to your co-workers in the New Year. I wish you an excellent break and look forward to be in touch soon.