The uphill battle for labor equality in Europe 2022 – POLITICO

Equality has a business case for it. Employers who treat their people equally attract and retain a talented and skilled workforce, and increase productivity and innovation. Inequality is bad for economic growth, says the OECD, and they should know it. However, creating equal working conditions and equal 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 took a hit. devastating impact on poverty levels. Europe’s harsh sanctions against Russia’s barbaric aggression against Ukraine are correct, and we are willing to pay this price for peace while ensuring solidarity mechanisms so that the most vulnerable do not bear the greatest 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-tier labor market.

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

Can we prevent the digital revolution from eating up hard-won workers’ rights? The answer to this question will largely determine the future of work. It is very convenient: with a click on our smartphones we can have food delivered to our homes or a ride to take us to other places. But the apps starkly hide the true story of platform workers, who are too often deprived of fair wages and social security, denied employee voice and participation, and denied paid leave and working conditions. decent jobs. We are fighting for rig workers to be considered employees, with all applicable rights, unless rig 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 wages, social security, health and safety protection, and sick leave, as well as the right to organize and participate in collective bargaining.

The apps clearly hide the true story of platform workers, who are too often deprived of fair wages and social security.

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 workers managed by digital tools. Any tool that affects working conditions and the health and safety of workers must be transparent and subject to collective bargaining, including algorithms. Decisions that affect working conditions must 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 the societies of tomorrow.

Women in the EU earn on average 14.1% less than men in comparable jobs.

Fighting another fight worth fighting: Equal pay for equal work or work for equal value. However, women in the EU earn on average 14.1 percent less than men in comparable jobs, according to Commission figures. We are currently negotiating with the EU governments a new law on pay transparency in companies. Closing the gender pay gap cannot be left in the hands of women workers who take companies to court, but must be an obligation of companies and governments. Under the new rules, workers will have the right to receive wage information. Companies will have to address unjustified imbalances. In the event that companies do not comply, they must face sanctions and give compensation to those affected.

Inequality among European workers remains a divisive issue. By revising the rules for posted workers, we ensure that workers receive the same rights and pay for the same work in the same workplace. By ending the abuse of posted workers, who often had to endure outrageous living conditions and received only a pittance, we also ended social dumping. Now co-workers can go back to being colleagues, instead of competitors. However, we are still waiting for governments to finally get serious about coordinating social security. With a single market and labor mobility comes the duty to ensure that the 14 million citizens who live or work in another EU country are sufficiently covered and protected by social security systems, including unemployment benefits, pension benefits, long-term and family benefits.

The directive on Minimum Adequate Wages will finally put an end to the scandal of working poverty.

We also say it out loud: work must pay. One in ten Europeans does not earn enough to make ends meet according to Eurostat. Even though they work a hard week of 40 hours or more, they cannot pay their rent, food and energy bills. With prices skyrocketing, many Europeans cannot take a decent standard of living for granted. We’re talking about the very people who keep our societies afloat: grocery checkers and stackers, cooks and waiters, truckers and caretakers, farmhands and kindergarten teachers. They don’t get the respect and pay they deserve.
The directive on Minimum Adequate Wages will finally put an end to the scandal of working poverty. For once, we are reinforcing collective bargaining as the best way to guarantee decent working conditions throughout Europe. Europe’s wrong recipe of lowering wages and breaking sectoral collective agreements harms people. It is time for a change and we are leading the charge to make it happen: wages must rise and the bargaining power of workers must grow.

Minimum wages should function as a threshold of decency. Setting them to a suitable level only works when cost of living is taken into account. Fair minimum wages will also help reduce the gender pay gap and combat inequality. The main mechanism through which inequality alters growth is by undermining educational opportunities for children from the poorest families, reducing their social mobility, making them less productive and earning lower wages, according to the OECD. We must break the vicious circle of poverty that breeds poverty by making sure that all Europeans earn decent wages that allow them to afford a home, healthy food and a good education for their children. In addition, we also need sufficient rules for 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 increasing inequalities. The citizens of Europe have been crying out for change for years. We progressives hear their roar.

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