On 24 February 2021, the Commission will likely present its proposal on the action plan on the European Pillar of Social Rights. The Chamber of Labour has participated in the consultation what was carried out in advance and has voiced concrete demands for the deepening of a social Europe.
For quite some time now, the Chamber of Labour has been demanding a strengthening of the social dimension of the EU. The allocation of funds through the recovery plan without a focus on social progress is to be regarded sceptically. The Social Progress Protocol needs to be urgently enshrined in EU´s Primary Law to grant priority to social rights over market freedom. AK proposes further measures for all 20 principles of the European Pillar.
More equal opportunities on the labour market
To facilitate access to vocational and further education, more investments in language development and an improved permeability of education systems are urgently required as well as the promotion of “dual training”, involving the social partners. A legal claim to paid leave for further training or education should also be established Europe-wide. The discrimination of women on the labour market should on the one hand be fought against with a pay transparency directive and on the other hand with the Directive to increase the women’s share on boards, which has been blocked in the Council since 2012. In order to dampen the impact of COVID-19 on the labour market, the short-time work models, which were introduced in the Member States, are still needed as well as additional measures and investments to save jobs.
Fair working conditions
Moreover, a new social action programme is urgently required. It must include among other, minimum standards to protect workers against mobility obstructing and unfair contract clauses and breaches of contract. Tackling precarious employment conditions must also be given top priority. Furthermore, it has to be ensured that in the future all atypical jobs are covered by Labour and Employment Law. The Commission is planning to present a first statement on the initiative to improve the working conditions of platform workers on 24 February 2021. It is welcomed by AK in view of widespread problems such as strong precariousness and bogus self-employment. Directives are also essential to improve working conditions in health- care professions and care – AK has prepared relevant proposals concerning this issue. The minimum wage proposal, presented by the Commission, is welcomed although it needs improving.
Expanding social protection
Wage and social dumping must be tackled more decisively, among other by strengthening the European Labour Authority and by implementing an Electronic Exchange of Social Security Information. The social dialogue must be strengthened, and employees should be involved to a greater degree. In order to enable improved social security for everyone, it is also vital to expand minimum security and to safeguard pension schemes. Childcare must also be comprehensively extended, and minimum standards for Member States’ unemployment insurance schemes have to be introduced. The urgent need to act makes the strong social focus of the Portuguese Presidency even more welcomed.