The uphill battle for equal work in Europe 2022 – POLITICO

Equality has a business case. Employers who treat their staff equally attract and retain a talented and skilled workforce, and drive productivity and innovation. Inequality is bad for economic growth, says the OECD, and they should know it. Yet creating equal working conditions and treatment for workers is an uphill battle, even in Europe in 2022. After two decades of declining real wages, the economic wrecking ball of the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact devastating on poverty levels. Europe’s tough sanctions against Russia’s barbaric aggression against Ukraine are right, and we are ready to pay that price for peace while ensuring solidarity mechanisms so that the most vulnerable do not bear the brunt heavy burden. At the same time, new technologies and artificial intelligence are increasing the size of the precarious work sector, creating the dangerous prospect of a two-speed labor market.

After two decades of declining real wages, the economic wrecking ball of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on poverty levels.

Can we stop the digital revolution from devouring hard-won workers’ rights? The answer to this question will largely determine the future of work. It’s so convenient: with one click on our smartphones, we can have food delivered to our homes or transported. But the apps carefully hide the true story of platform workers, who are too often denied fair wages and social insurance, denied employee participation and voice, and denied paid time off and working conditions. decent work. We fight for platform workers to be considered employees, with all applicable rights – unless platform companies can prove they are dealing with genuine freelancers. Through this “rebuttable presumption” of an employment relationship, we can ensure that platform workers get the rights they should be entitled to, such as minimum wage, social insurance, health and security and sick leave, as well as the right to organize and bargain collectively.

The apps carefully hide the true story of platform workers, who are too often denied fair wages and social insurance.

As algorithms become an integral part of working life, we risk creating a two-tier labor market, where workers managed by their employers through algorithms have fewer rights than workers in the traditional economy. This is true for platform workers, as well as any other worker managed by digital tools. Every tool affecting working conditions and worker health and safety must be transparent and subject to collective bargaining, including algorithms. Decisions affecting working conditions should not be made by automated systems without human supervision or in violation of our data protection laws. Workers should never be at the mercy of algorithms. How we protect some of the most vulnerable people in today’s economy will shape tomorrow’s societies.

In the EU, women earn on average 14.1% less than men in comparable jobs.

To fight another fight worth fighting: equal pay for equal work or work of equal value. Yet women in the EU earn on average 14.1% less than men in comparable jobs, according to Commission figures. Currently, we are negotiating with EU governments for a new law on corporate pay transparency. Closing the gender pay gap cannot be left to women workers suing companies, but must be the obligation of companies and governments. With the new rules, workers will have the right to receive wage information. Companies will have to remedy unjustified imbalances. If companies do not comply, they must face penalties and compensate those affected.

Inequality between European workers remains a divisive issue. With the revised rules for posted workers, we have ensured that workers receive the same rights and the same pay for the same work at the same workplace. By putting an end to the mistreatment of posted workers, who often had to endure deplorable living conditions and received nothing but misery, we also put an end to social dumping. Now co-workers can become co-workers again rather than competitors. Yet we are still waiting for governments to finally take social security coordination seriously. With a single market and labor mobility comes the duty to ensure that the 14 million citizens living or working in another EU country are sufficiently covered and protected by social security systems, including unemployment benefits, long-term benefits and family benefits.

The Adequate Minimum Wage Directive will finally put an end to the in-work poverty scandal.

We also say it loud and clear: hard work must pay off. According to Eurostat, one in ten Europeans does not earn enough to make ends meet. Even if they work a hard week of 40 hours or more, they cannot afford their rent, food and energy bills. With prices soaring, many Europeans cannot take a decent standard of living for granted. We are talking about the very people who keep our societies afloat: supermarket cashiers and stackers, cooks and waiters, truck drivers and carers, farm workers and kindergarten teachers. They don’t get the respect or pay they deserve.
The Adequate Minimum Wage Directive will finally put an end to the in-work poverty scandal. In one fell swoop, we are strengthening collective bargaining as the best way to ensure decent working conditions across Europe. Europe’s misguided recipe of lowering wages and breaking sectoral collective agreements is hurting people. It is time for change and we are leading the charge to make it happen: wages must rise and the bargaining power of workers must increase.

Minimum wages should function as a threshold of decency. Setting them at an adequate level only works when taking into account the cost of living. Fair minimum wages will also help reduce the gender pay gap and tackle inequality. According to the OECD, the main mechanism through which inequality disrupts growth is by undermining the educational opportunities of children from the poorest families, reducing their social mobility, making them less productive and causing them to earn lower wages. . We need to break the vicious cycle of poverty that breeds poverty — by ensuring that all Europeans have decent wages so that they can have housing, healthy food and a good education for their children. Furthermore, we also need sufficient standards for the minimum income in the EU. Equality at work will make many children happier and our societies better off in every way.

This is the fight of our time: progress cannot go hand in hand with rising inequalities. European citizens have been calling for change for years. We progressives hear their roar.

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