The EU directive on adequate minimum wages cleared its final vote in the European Parliament with a convincing majority this week. The directive will require EU members states to promote collective bargaining and combat union-busting activities. The ETUC (European Trades Union Confederation) said the vote means that Europe has “taken an important step towards ending poverty pay.”
The directive will mean that EU member states will have to verify the adequacy of statutory minimum wages, taking account of purchasing power and the cost of living. Countries with collective bargaining coverage below 80% will be required to produce an action plan to support collective bargaining, while companies receiving public procurement contracts will be required to respect the right to organise and collective bargaining in line with specific ILO conventions.
Reacting to the vote, Fórsa general secretary and ICTU president Kevin Callinan said: “Wage bargaining is vital to combat poverty and inequality
“This very significant step must now result in the Irish government taking immediate measures to dramatically improve the country's low level of collective bargaining coverage. Over to you (Tánaiste) Leo Varadkar.”
The vote came after ETUC research found Europe’s lowest paid workers are suffering the sharpest decline in purchasing power this century, with statutory minimum wages down by as much as 19% in real terms.
The final step of the two-year process will be approval by the European Council of the European Union later this month.
ETUC Deputy General Secretary Esther Lynch said: “Member States need to get serious about getting wages rising, they should not wait for two years before implementing the Directive. They should take action now to increase statutory minimum wages and promote collective bargaining.
“Wages should never leave workers and their families living in poverty but that has been the reality across Europe for too long.
“This directive is a timely boost to the millions of people struggling to heat their homes and feed their families. Not only by ensuring minimum wages are adequate but by strengthening collective bargaining as the best solution to achieving genuinely fair wages for all,” she said.
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