Led by EU Commissioner for Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, the EU Commission presented today its long-awaited proposal for a Directive on fair minimum wages. The S&D Group has been calling for such a proposal for many years and the proposal now forms part of the Commission Work Programme. The fight against in-work poverty and decent wages is particularly important for women and young people.
Commenting on the proposal, S&D Group president Iratxe García Pérez said:
“We welcome the Commission’s proposal for fair minimum wages. Our group’s support to Ursula von der Leyen was conditional to the implementation of a strong social agenda, and this proposal is one of the key elements we demanded because we just cannot accept that there are 'working poor' in the EU. Every job deserves a decent salary. The introduction of fair minimum wages in the EU is good news for all the people struggling to survive on low wages and the most affected by the Covid-19 crisis, the majority of whom are women.
“The S&D Group is leading the efforts to change the EU economic policy from macro-economic concerns to people’s daily lives. This is why we have been insisting on strengthening the social pillar when we need to provide a sustainable and inclusive response to the crisis, and we can see the results of our efforts at the right time. I am glad to see that this time we are not alone. Unlike the 2008 crisis, the EU institutions have learned from the mistakes: No more irrational austerity, no more making the most vulnerable pay the price through wage reductions, nor cuts to social rights.
“Together with upward socioeconomic convergence, Commissioner Nicolas Schmit also secured a good balance for those member states where wages are set by collective bargaining. We need to ensure that national practices that have shown to be a success for workers' rights are not affected in anyway and, at the same time, we need to take this opportunity to strengthen social dialogue and the role of trade unions in our societies.”
Agnes Jongerius, S&D spokesperson on social affairs and employment, said:
“Europe is taking a new road. The paradigm is moving away from competition on wages towards social upward convergence. We are constructing the dam, which will protect workers from the pressures of lower wages. At the same time, we are bringing forth a positive wage development through covering more workers under collective agreements. The proposed directive is setting criteria that statutory minimum wages must be delivered upon.
“We will fight for guaranteeing that workers will earn at least 60% of the median wage and 50% of the average wage, where statutory minimum wages exist. Workers will get more certainty. Firstly with regard to member states having to ensure in public procurement that minimum wages and collectively bargained wages are paid. Secondly, when workers have the right to redress with compensation, and thirdly when measures against trade union busting must be taken. Social change starts here!”