Reportage > Travailleurs détachés : à travail égal, salaire égal ?

A European Union flag flutters as a construction worker is seen on a building under renovation in Brussels December 9, 2013. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir

MEPs debate the terms of the EU Commission’s pledge to fix inequalities for workers posted in other EU countries.

Companies which send workers to other EU countries could be required to pay salaries in line with local rates. The EU Commission presented a statement to MEPs on revisions to the 1996 Posted Workers Directive, saying it needs updating because of abuse, fraud and social dumping, the practice of undermining local market conditions by cheap labour. If this continues, what could happen? First of all xenophobic rejection by workers from other countries and there is a risk that at some point the receiving countries could tighten regulation against these posted workers, spelling the end of the internal market.

Numbers of posted workers have soared. In 2014 there were almost 2 million across the EU. Construction workers make up about 40 %, followed by the farming, transport and finance sectors. A tool that was intended to simply facilitate the provision of services across borders has become an instrument seen by many as enabling unfair competition and social dumping. Some fear the Commission is meddling in the States’ markets and labour regimes. MEPs sought to reassure them.

We need to make sure that we are defending the rights of workers but not by forgetting that the business community is also involved. Next step in the process is for the Commission to draft legislation to present to Parliament for scrutiny of the details.

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