The intention is to increase the statutory minimum wages and strengthen collective bargaining.
The minimum wage should guarantee a decent standard of living. Collective bargaining should be strengthened in countries where it covers less than 80% of workers
The powers of national authorities and the autonomy of the social partners to determine wages must be fully respected
A new EU law will guarantee a minimum level of wage protection in all Member States in order to ensure a decent standard of living for workers and their families.
These main conclusions were supported by a vote on Thursday by MEPs from the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL). They discussed and adopted the principles for setting minimum wage protection requirements across the EU by introducing a statutory minimum wage, or by introducing a statutory possibility for workers to negotiate their wages with employers. The new legislation should apply to all workers in the EU who have an employment contract or employment relationship.
According to the draft law, Member States must assess and report whether the statutory minimum wages are sufficient in size, using criteria to ensure decent working and living conditions and including elements such as purchasing power and poverty. Member States in which the minimum wage is protected exclusively by collective agreements will not be obliged to introduce statutory minimum wages or make these agreements generally applicable.
Promoting collective bargaining
The draft directive explicitly aims to strengthen and expand the scope of collective bargaining and to protect workers by providing them with a minimum wage through these negotiations. Member States in which less than 80% of the workforce has collective bargaining should take active steps to promote this instrument. In order to develop the best strategy for this purpose, they should consult the social partners and inform the European Commission of the measures taken.
In addition, it will be explicitly prohibited to impede collective bargaining or collective wage agreements. Workers must be able to join a trade union freely and must not be deterred from doing so.
Compensation for violated rights
National authorities should ensure that workers are entitled to compensation if their rights are violated. Workers must be adequately compensated and able to recover any remuneration due. National authorities must also take the necessary measures to protect workers and trade union representatives from unfair treatment by their employer as a result of a complaint or other proceeding instituted by them in order to exercise their rights.
The EP’s negotiating mandate with the Council of the EU on the final form of legislation should be approved during the plenary session on 22-25 November in Strasbourg.
Following the vote, co-rapporteur Denis Radke (EPP, Germany) said: “With today’s vote in the Employment Committee, we have taken an important step and moved from words to action to protect decent work across the EU. This directive is a crucial factor in the fight for more a strong social Europe. “
“With this legislation, we are breaking with the past. During the previous economic crisis, reducing minimum wages and abolishing sectoral collective bargaining were the heavy drugs prescribed for many Member States. We are now fighting to raise statutory minimum wages and strengthen collective bargaining. in Europe “, added co-rapporteur Agnes Jongerius (S&D, the Netherlands).
The right to an adequate minimum wage is set out in Principle 6 of the European Pillar of Social Rights, which was agreed jointly by the European Parliament, the Council on behalf of all Member States and the European Commission in November 2017. The European Parliament has repeatedly called for legislative action. about this issue. In October 2020, the Commission presented a proposal for a directive to improve the adequacy of minimum wages in the EU.
In the EU, 21 of the 27 countries have a statutory minimum wage, while in the remaining six (Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Italy and Sweden) wage levels are determined by collective bargaining. Expressed in euros, monthly minimum wages in the EU vary considerably, ranging from 332 euros in Bulgaria to 2,220 euros in Luxembourg (according to Eurostat data for 2021).