Due to the low salaries they receive, almost three million people in the European Union cannot afford to heat their homes, even though they work.
This shows an analysis of Eurostat data from the European Trade Union Institute, published by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC). The analysis is published on the website of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB). It is made against the backdrop of rising energy prices in Europe.
At the beginning of autumn and on the eve of winter, 15 percent of the working poor in Europe will not be able to turn on heating. This percentage is equal to 2,713,578 people across Europe, warn the ETUC. The situation has worsened in a dozen EU member states over the past decade, and now the sharp rise in electricity prices in Europe risks leading to even more energy poverty, the ETUC predicts.
The data show that Bulgaria is in second place on the list with the highest percentage of working poor who cannot afford heating. The ranking is as follows: Cyprus – 45.6 percent (14,398 workers), Bulgaria – 42.8 percent (129,990 workers), Lithuania – 34.5 percent (35,371 workers), Portugal – 30.6 percent (157,612 employees), Greece – 28.7 percent (122,323 employees), Italy – 26.1 percent (833,311 employees). The largest percentage increase in the working poor who cannot afford heating has been in Croatia since 2009 with a growth of 16.5 percent, followed by Cyprus – 10 percent, Lithuania – 7.9 percent, Slovakia – 7.8 percent, Spain – 6 percent.
Rising energy prices make EU decisive action on wages even more urgent, the ETUC said. The Confederation calls on the European Parliament to protect workers from energy poverty by introducing a “threshold of dignity” in the draft directive on minimum wages. It will ensure that statutory minimum wages ensure a decent standard of living. For this purpose, they may not be less than 60 percent of the national median gross salary and 50 percent of the national average gross salary. If this double threshold is introduced, it will allow wages to rise to more than 24 million people in the EU.
In the current form of the draft EU directive, this double threshold does not appear and so the situation will not change. Amendments are needed to introduce and increase the number of workers covered by collective bargaining across Europe, which is the best way to achieve real fair pay, the ETUC said.
“There are millions of low-paid workers in Europe who have to choose between heating their homes, feeding their families well or paying rent, even though they work full time. This is unacceptable and rejects the whole point of the minimum wage. Unfortunately, rising energy prices mean that this winter even more people are facing the need to return from a long day or night to a cold home and their children to write their homework in the cold, said ETK Deputy Secretary-General Esther Lynch. .