Brussels, 3 April 2008 - In the wake of today’s judgment by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the Rüffert case, SOLIDAR urges European decision-makers to re-consider the rules as currently laid out in the posting of the Workers Directive issued by the European Commission which has opened the door to social dumping of workers in Europe.
The case concerns a construction company in Germany which subcontracted its work to a Polish company who engaged Polish workers to undertake the work. The European Court of Justice ruling concerned the question of whether the freedom to provide services precludes a statutory obligation requiring a contractor in a public works contract to undertake to pay its employees at least the remuneration prescribed by the applicable collective agreement.
“What this judgment re-confirms, following the similar verdict in the Laval and Viking cases is that in today’s Europe not everyone is equal. In the battle between the “freedom to provide services” and the responsibility to protect workers, the workers have lost out yet again. It is not surprising then that many citizens question whether the Europe we are creating is a social Europe, with decent jobs or a haven for free-market ideologues which seek to undermine the fundamental principle of equal pay for equal work,” said Conny Reuter, the Secretary General of SOLIDAR.
“It is ironic that we bemoan the fact that countries like China are using their low-labour standards to compete, whilst at the same time allowing the same thing to happen here. The Polish workers employed on the German construction site in question were getting paid 46% of the minimum applicable wage. As an organisation committed to the principle that every worker, regardless of his or her origin has equal rights, SOLIDAR is alarmed by the fact that the ECJ sees this as a legitimate competitive advantage, instead of just pure exploitation,” Reuter continued.
“We therefore urge the European Parliament to ask the Commission to re-open the posting directive so that the principle of equal pay for equal work is at the center and not the periphery of European policies. Only then will the right to decent work and decent lives for all be achieved,” he concluded.