Trade unions to fight for a stronger European Pillar of Social Rights

European trade unions today resolved to call on the European Commission, national Governments and the European Parliament to adopt a stronger European Pillar of Social Rights.

Meeting as the Executive Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), national and European trade union leaders also decided to hold a ‘European Day of Action’ in Gothenburg on 16 November – the day before the Gothenburg EU Social Summit takes place and which is due to adopt the Pillar.

The trade unions want a stronger Pillar of Social Rights, a commitment to implement, and the full involvement of trade unions and employers.

“The trade union movement is mobilising for a stronger European Pillar of Social Rights, and to stop those who want to kill it” said ETUC General Secretary Luca Visentini “at the same time we will fight to strengthen proposals that are frankly long-overdue and fall well short of what working people need.”

“Working people have been waiting since the crisis ten years’ ago for evidence that the EU is able to agree concrete actions to improve their rights and standards of living. Trade unions will not let the opportunity slip away.”

“It is not enough for the EU to say things will get better” said ETUC Confederal Secretary Esther Lynch. “We need to be sure the Commission is not making promises of new rights while taking away important rights. Just last week the European Commission proposed restricting the right to strike for air traffic control staff. It doesn’t inspire confidence.”


Key ETUC demands to strengthen the European Pillar of Social Rights include:

  • A Social Progress Protocol in any future Treaty change to put social rights on a par with economic rights;
  • A Social Rights Test – similar to the Better Regulation Agenda – making all new policies subject to assessing how it would improve social rights;
  • Employment Directives to make the rights in the European Pillar of Social Rights real for all workers in all workplaces, including a ‘Directive on Effective Enforcement of Workers’ Rights’;
  • Guidance and targets for promoting collective bargaining, upward wage convergence and to end social dumping including a European Labour Inspectorate;
  • Revision of the European Semester, making sure that the social dimension and social rights are at the core of the European integration process.

Of the existing Commission proposals for a European Pillar of Social Rights, the ETUC

  • Strongly supports increased parental leave, and the introduction of paid paternity and carers leave;
  • Wants a revised Written Statement Directive to cover all workers including the self-employed, trainees and apprentices;
  • Agrees action to address access to social protection to include self-employed and ‘non-standard’ workers.
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