On 9 December 2015, EFFAT took part in a seminar in the European Parliament sponsored by German S&D MEP Jutta Steinrück on the free movement of workers.
In parallel with the European Commission's announcement of the timeframe for the rollout of the Labour Mobility Package, EFFAT and ETUC and EFBWW fellow trade union representatives met with the EU institutions. They discussed the controversial link between the freedom of movement of workers in the single market and the potential erosion of principles such as equal treatment, fair competition and of the European social model as whole.
EFFAT General Secretary Harald Wiedenhofer highlighted the fact that the free movement of workers enhances the economic, social and cultural cohesion of the European Union. However, workers who are 'moved around' within the single market are increasingly finding themselves subjected to social dumping and new atypical yet legal forms of labour exploitation at the cheapest possible price in spite of national legislation and collective bargaining systems. These practices are driving down wages and working conditions, thereby conflicting with European plans to create sustainable employment and economic growth.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) have revealed that criminal forms of work in Europe have spread beyond predicted levels, hitting those living on the continent. This type of precarious work particularly affects EFFAT sectors, namely agriculture, food and tourism, as they endanger the principle of equality of work from farm to fork, and fair competition. As a result of the freedom of service provision in the EU, forms of severe labour exploitation are being used on the labour market. Unscrupulous employers who do not engage in collective bargaining end up with a competitive advantage over law-abiding employers who fully participate in social dialogue.
At the seminar, EFFAT outlined its policy priorities and called on the EU institutions to put more effort into safeguarding the basic tenets of the European social model. EFFAT demands the implementation of the Golden Rule, namely that workers in the same job and workplace must be entitled to equal pay and enjoy the same rights as their counterparts, and the establishment of a Social Progress Protocol to be annexed to the EU Treaties.