ETUC welcomes moves by some Member States to lift restrictions on worker mobility, but demands more action at national and EU level to guarantee equal treatment and social protection for cross-border workers

Brussels, 16/03/2006

We are in favour of a more open approach,” affirmed ETUC General Secretary John Monks, “but it must be based on the principles of equal treatment and upward harmonisation of working conditions and social protection.

The ETUC has declared its support for an open EU labour market on four conditions: equal pay and conditions for work of equal value on the same territory; respect for national collective bargaining and industrial relations systems; equal access for workers to social benefits; and effective measures for monitoring and enforcement.

But trade unions at national level should play an important role in the final decisions on the opening of their labour markets, taking into account national and geographical specificities and concerns.

Trade unions have noted how the temporary restrictions still in force in a number of 'old' Member States tend to have a perverse effect, leading to a growth in undeclared work, exploitation and discrimination instead of protecting labour markets.

However, labour market opening must be coupled with strong supervision and measures to combat exploitation and unfair competition on wages and working conditions, which too often accompany the cross-border mobility of workers or services.

Therefore, the ETUC Executive Committee yesterday also adopted a position on the implementation of the Posting Directive, demanding a higher commitment from Member States to its monitoring and enforcement, and asking the European Commission to take additional steps at EU level to support Member States and social partners in their efforts.