The European Union should swiftly modify the regulation allowing pay differentials between
seconded and local workers or France will stop applying it, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday (3 July).
French politicians and unions have blamed the system of seconded or “posted” workers, allowing employers to pay them no more than the minimum rate in the host country, as the cause of job losses in France, particularly in the livestock industry.
“The French government is seeking to convince (the EU), and many countries agree, that we need to change. There must be equal treatment upwards to fight social dumping,” he told TF1 television in an interview.
“If it is not possible to convince … France will not apply this directive.”
The number of seconded workers, employed in one EU state but temporarily sent to work in another, has jumped in recent years. There were some 1.9 million posted workers in the EU in 2014, the most recent data shows.
Employers are not now obliged to pay posted workers more than the minimum wage in the host country, which leads to underpayment of posted workers and competition between firms employing seconded or local workers.
The European Commission has proposed making the pay of the two categories the same. But several Central European countries such as Hungary and Poland oppose this, saying it would be disadvantageous to them and would threaten jobs.
On 10 May, national parliaments, mainly from Central and Eastern Europe, managed to trigger a “yellow card” that forces the European Commission to reconsider its proposal to revise the Posted Workers Directive.
The Commission must now decide whether it amends, withdraws or maintains the proposal to revise the Posted Workers Directive, but any decision must be justified. In the European Parliament, the Socialists and Democrats Group, for instance, stands firmly behind the Commission and rejected the national parliaments’ call on the Commission to withdraw the revision of the directive.