Parliament fences off looser posting rules

Business associations and MEPs across the bench have welcomed the Parliament’s decision not to ask for any major changes to the Posting of Workers Directive.

Posting happens when a company sends workers to a different country within the EU, for a limited period of time. The Posting of Workers Directive lays down minimum standards on issues such as pay rates, holidays, working hours, health and safety and gender equality for such workers. 

The Parliament adopted, on 26 October 2006, an own-initiative report dealing with the application of the directive and conclusions to be drawn. In doing so, it reacted to guidelines on the application of the directive, which the Commission published in April 2006. In this document, the Commission suggested that procedures for posting workers could be facilitated by watering down standards on worker registration and documents to be produced in the instance of controls, and by ending special safeguards for temporary agency workers. 

The Parliament’s plenary voted by and large in favour of the report drafted by German Green MEP Elisabeth Schroedter. The EPP-ED (Conservative) Group, which had tabled 14 amendments, managed to get only five of them adopted. 

Conservative MEPs Philip Bushill-Matthews amd Ma?gorzata Handzlik tabled one of the most controversial amendments to the report, which supported the Commission’s view that “that the requirement for a service provider employing posted workers to have a legal representative in the host country, with a full mandate to participate in collective negotiations, is contrary to the provisions of Article 49 of the EC Treaty“. When the amendment was voted down, PSE (Social Democrat) MEP Evelyne Gebhardt commented: “Any company posting workers to a country must continue to name a person to be addressed and to be entitled to act on the company’s behalf in the case of enquiries or irregularities. We have thereby put the kibosh on the danger of social dumping.” 

295 MEPs voted in favour of the report, 72 against and 20 abstained. Hanns-Eberhard Schleyer, general secretary with the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts, said: “This is an important outcome for fair competition in skilled crafts. It has reduced pressure for an amendment of the German law on the posting of workers. That’s good, because it is the only way that fair competition can take place within Europe’s different social systems.”

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