All eyes on EU’s anti-discrimination efforts

Samuel Thomas, organiser of “European meetings”, with (on his right), Christine Revault d’Allonnes-Bonnefoy, socialist MEP, and Gérard Filoche, trade unionist and former member of the French socialist party.

Associations working to fight against inequalities are calling on the EU to adopt a more aggressive policy against fraudulent employers. This approach echoes a survey showing that the majority of French people are closely following this issue. EURACTIV France reports.

A survey conducted by Harris Interactive in late October showed that 84% of French people support the strengthening of European sanctions against employers who are found to practise discrimination in recruitment.

“European parliamentarians need to be able to address these claims and stop hiding behind treaties,” said Samuel Thomas, head of the national federation of the “Maisons des Potes,” a network of neighbourhood associations.

Between Wednesday 31 October and Sunday 4 November, he conducted “Rencontres européennes” [“European meetings”] under the heading of “Unis pour l’égalité” [“United for equality”] at Porte de Vincennes in Paris. Over the four days of the event, actors on the ground and MEPs came to talk about coexistence and exclusion.

Treaty of Amsterdam, a turning point in Europe’s fight against discrimination

Among the participants, socialist MEP Christine Revault d’Allonnes-Bonnefoy shared the view that “not enough” has been done, even though Alain Gavand, an HR specialist in this area, noted that “there is clearly a ‘before’ and ‘after’ the treaty of Amsterdam”.

Member states must stop building barriers for posted workers

Doing business across EU borders should be frictionless. But in reality, European companies still face excessive bureaucracy when posting workers to another EU country, writes Thilo Brodtmann.

Signed in October 1997, Article 13 of the Amsterdam treaty is a founding text for the fight against any form of discrimination in Europe. This text permits the Council to take measures to fight forms of discrimination. It was applied in France by three European directives at the beginning of the 2000s.

However, another European issue is attracting the most attention. The directive on posted workers has been heavily criticised. The survey showed that 82% of French people supported equal work which opened up the same rights and provided the same remuneration, regardless of workers’ nationalities.

Posted workers poorly looked upon

According to the principle of posted workers, a company may temporarily employ an EU citizen on the wage conditions in the country where the work is carried out. However, they can pay employee contributions in the employee’s country of origin. Despite being recently reformed, the text remains the subject of criticism.

European Parliament votes in favour of the revision on posted workers

After 27 months of negotiations, MEPs approved a revision of the posted workers directive, an issue which symbolises divisions between East and West in the EU. EURACTIV.fr reports.

Accordingly, the system only benefits companies, according to Gérard Filoche, formerly a  labour inspector and a figure in the French socialist party. “There are 1.4 million posted workers in the territory, for 1,600 labour inspectors, who are unable to hold European capitals accountable to see if contributions have been paid,” he noted.

Searching for European unity

The spokesperson for Europe Ecology – The Greens (EELV), which has a lot riding on the forthcoming European elections, Sandra Regol, agrees with this view. In the face of multinationals’ omnipotence, her party is even calling for “a resolution to be passed in the European Parliament so that the EU speaks with one voice on matters of human rights violations in recruitment or in career development.”

However, this is no small challenge since “the heads of government and the majority party at the European Parliament are resistant to giving up national sovereignty on this matter,” she noted.

On 2 October, the Green group, together with other groups at the European Parliament, submitted a motion for a resolution to force the EU to do more in this area. The motion will soon be voted in plenary.

Further Reading

The EU’s patchwork social pillar on work-life balance

The patchwork of policies on work-life balance across the EU reflect differing levels of commitment to the EU's Social Pillar.

Germany to ease immigration rules to fight worker shortage

Worker-starved Germany will ease immigration rules to attract foreign jobseekers, including giving well-integrated irregular migrants in employment a shot at staying, ministers said Tuesday (2 October).

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