A construction worker who has been waiting three years for over €8,000 in unpaid wages is among the cases of exploitation of posted workers which the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is today announcing will be referred to the new European Labour Authority (ELA) for investigation. 

The ELA, which will be launched in Brussels tomorrow (October 16) by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, will support member states in enforcing EU employment rules including those which say workers sent temporarily from one EU country should receive the same pay and conditions as local workers.

Ahead of the launch, the ETUC and the European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) are publishing details of nine cases involving the abuse of hundreds of vulnerable workers which will be filed with ELA for investigation as soon as possible.

The cases, which are typical of the widespread abuse of posted workers, include:

  • Posted workers being paid significantly less than local workers
  • Holiday pay and sick pay being withheld
  • Companies avoiding payment of social security contributions
  • Bogus posting by companies with no economic activity in their home country

The cases concern workers being sent from Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Slovenia to work in Germany, Austria and Denmark.

ETUC Deputy General Secretary Per Hilmersson, trade union representative on the management board of the ELA, said:

“Too many posted workers find themselves being underpaid and denied basic rights. This is the downside of free movement for services on the EU internal market. Trade unions successfully fought for changes to EU rules to ensure equal pay and rights for posted workers and the new European Labour Authority should play a crucial role in ensuring they are vigorously upheld. We need to see a crackdown on rogue employers who are making big profits from social dumping at the expense of vulnerable workers and public trust in freedom of movement. We welcome the setting up of the European Labour Authority and we will work with it to get a fair deal for working people.”

EFBWW’s Political Secretary Construction, Werner Buelen said:

“It’s a sad fact that posting and freedom of movement has created a substantial industry profiting from the exploitation of workers with bogus companies, bogus self-employment and relying on local lack of knowledge of social security, pension, health, and other contributions systems in other countries. The European Labour Agency should help to tackle this cross-border fraud. The cases that we are referring to the European Labour Agency are the result of hard work by trade unions to protect workers but cannot be resolved by trade unions alone. We need the European Labour Agency to investigate wrong-doing and ensure that the rules are being followed in all countries involved.”

 

 

Notes:

A ‘posted worker’ is a person employed in one EU country and sent by his/her employer on a temporary basis to work in another.

In 2018, the Posting of Workers Directive was revised to ensure workers receive equal treatment on renumeration and other key working conditions.

The European Institutions created the European Labour Authority to “ensure that EU rules on labour mobility be enforced in a fair, simple and effective way.”

The management board of the ELA is made up of representatives of national governments, trade unions and employers organisations at EU level.