Corporate Abuse Of EU Law To Blame For ‘British Jobs’ Dispute – Not Exploited Foreign Workers, Says Green MEP

4 February 2009

The South East’s Green MEP Caroline Lucas today joined with four other Euro-MPs to launch a call for the European Commission to urgently revise EU employment law to prevent the kind of disputes which are now threatening to undermine workers’ rights across the EU – and which are being used by unscrupulous right-wing groups to promote racism and xenophobia.

The group of MEPs, from the UK, Germany and Italy, is launching a Written Declaration, like an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, demanding that the Commission undertakes a full revision of the EU’s Posted Workers Directive to improve workers’ rights at home and abroad. The MEPs threaten to veto this year’s incoming European Commission unless it commits itself to such a revision.

Caroline Lucas MEP said: "As workers at the Lindsey Oil Refinery continue to brave the freezing conditions to fight their cause, the tense debate over foreign workers and ‘British jobs’ rages on. But it’s vital that we resist the attempts of those on the far right to use the current dispute to stir up racism and xenophobia.

"Instead of blaming ‘foreign workers’, we should be challenging the rights of multinationals to undercut local pay rates and exploit workers. And it’s EU law that is making this possible. Recent court rulings, such as the Viking and Laval cases, have seen the Posted Workers Directive used to allow contractors to pay foreign workers the minimum wage only - not the going rate for skilled workers in Britain.

"In an economy obsessed with remaining ‘competitive’, employers are being permitted under EU law to push down the wages and reduce the union rights of continental workers, creating a pool of low wage and disadvantaged labour."

She concluded: "It’s clear that the Posted Workers Directive needs to be revised, so that its original intention, to provide equal treatment for all workers, is upheld."

Glyn Ford, Labour MEP for South West England and one of the co-sponsors of today’s Written Declaration, commented: "The situation is clear - if we are to end ’social dumping’ within Europe, we must change the law. British and other European workers should not have to compete within factories and companies with those forced to work for lower wages and in poorer conditions".

The Written Declaration has also been co-signed by North East Labour MEP Stephen Hughes, Italian Socialist MEP Luisa Morgantini and Green German MEP Elizabeth Schroedter.


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The South East's Green MEP Caroline Lucas today joined with four other Euro-MPs to launch a call for the European Commission to urgently revise EU employment law to prevent the kind of disputes which are now threatening to undermine workers' rights across the EU - and which are being used by unscrupulous right-wing groups to promote racism and xenophobia.

The group of MEPs, from the UK, Germany and Italy, is launching a Written Declaration, like an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons, demanding that the Commission undertakes a full revision of the EU's Posted Workers Directive to improve workers' rights at home and abroad. The MEPs threaten to veto this year's incoming European Commission unless it commits itself to such a revision.

Caroline Lucas MEP said: "As workers at the Lindsey Oil Refinery continue to brave the freezing conditions to fight their cause, the tense debate over foreign workers and ‘British jobs' rages on. But it's vital that we resist the attempts of those on the far right to use the current dispute to stir up racism and xenophobia.

"Instead of blaming ‘foreign workers', we should be challenging the rights of multinationals to undercut local pay rates and exploit workers. And it's EU law that is making this possible. Recent court rulings, such as the Viking and Laval cases, have seen the Posted Workers Directive used to allow contractors to pay foreign workers the minimum wage only - not the going rate for skilled workers in Britain.

"In an economy obsessed with remaining ‘competitive', employers are being permitted under EU law to push down the wages and reduce the union rights of continental workers, creating a pool of low wage and disadvantaged labour."

She concluded: "It's clear that the Posted Workers Directive needs to be revised, so that its original intention, to provide equal treatment for all workers, is upheld."

Glyn Ford, Labour MEP for South West England and one of the co-sponsors of today's Written Declaration, commented: "The situation is clear - if we are to end 'social dumping' within Europe, we must change the law. British and other European workers should not have to compete within factories and companies with those forced to work for lower wages and in poorer conditions".

The Written Declaration has also been co-signed by North East Labour MEP Stephen Hughes, Italian Socialist MEP Luisa Morgantini and Green German MEP Elizabeth Schroedter.