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GMB Concerns On EU Directive

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
GMB Welcome Revision To EU Posting Of Workers Directive But There Is Still A Way To Go Before Proposals Meet Expectations

You can’t face both ways on this issue so if the EU commission is serious about stopping undercutting and social dumping, unfair wage competition has to go says GMB.

GMB, the union for construction workers, reacted to proposals for a revision to the EU Posting of Workers Directive. GMB had high hopes when EU Commission President Juncker announced last year that he would stop social dumping and undercutting and guarantee “equal pay for equal work in the same place”. See notes to editors for a press release from European commission

The Posting of Workers Directive, approved in 1996, regulates workers employed in one country who are sent to work temporarily in another. This practice can often result in posted workers being paid considerably less than their UK counterparts due to pay and social contribution disparities between countries.

Posting of workers is an important issue for GMB members in construction and manufacturing: The construction sector sees 43.7% of the total postings in the UK while postings in the manufacturing sector make up 21.8%.

Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European Officer, said “GMB members will be glad to see that the EU commission is finally accepting that the current posting of workers protections are not fit for purpose, in releasing proposals for a revision. However, there is still a way to go before the proposals tabled meet the expectations of GMB members and workers across Europe.

Equal pay for equal work in the same place has to be for all not just for some. The current proposals contain unacceptable exclusions. The proposals are also contradictory on a fundamental point. They claim to guarantee equal pay for equal work whilst, in the preamble, legitimizing unfair wage competition.

You can’t face both ways on this issue so if the EU commission is serious about stopping undercutting and social dumping, unfair wage competition has to go. The European parliament and member state governments have a job of work to do yet if this is going to be the real deal that our members have long campaigned for.”

Ends

Contact: Kathleen Walker Shaw in Brussels on 07841 181 549 or GMB press office on 07970 863411 or 07739 182691

Notes to editors

Press release from the European commission dated 8th March 2016

Today the European Commission is presenting a targeted revision of the rules on posting of workers, as set out in the 2016 Commission work programme.

The aim of this proposal is to facilitate the provision of services across borders within a climate of fair competition and respect for the rights of posted workers, who are employed in one Member State and sent to work temporarily in another by their employer. More specifically, the initiative aims at ensuring fair wage conditions and a level playing field between posting and local companies in the host country.

The Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, said: "I have said from day one of my mandate that we need to facilitate labour mobility, but that it needs to work in a fair way. Today's proposal will create a legal framework for posting that is clear, fair and easy to enforce."

The targeted revision will introduce changes in three areas:

· remuneration of posted workers,

· rules on temporary work agencies

· duration of posting

The proposal foresees that posted workers are subject to equal pay and working conditions as local workers. This will be done in full respect of the way these rules are set by the Member State in question. Currently, posted workers are already subject to the same rules as host Member State employees in certain fields, such as health and safety.

However, the employer is not obliged to pay a posted worker more than the minimum rate of pay set by the host country. This can create wage differences between posted and local workers and potentially lead to unfair competition between companies. This means that posted workers are often remunerated less than other workers for the same job.

From now on, all the rules on remuneration that are applied generally to local workers will also have to be granted to posted workers. Remuneration will not only include the minimum rates of pay, but also other elements such as bonuses or allowances where applicable.

Member States will be required to specify in a transparent way the different elements of how remuneration is composed on their territory. Rules set by law or universally applicable collective agreements become mandatory for posted workers in all economic sectors. The proposal also gives the possibility to Member States to provide that subcontractors need to grant their workers the same pay as the main contractor. Nevertheless this can only be done in a non-discriminatory way: the same rule must apply to national and cross-border subcontractors.

The proposal will also ensure that national rules on temporary agency work apply when agencies established abroad post workers.

Finally, if the duration of posting exceeds 24 months, the labour law conditions of the host Member States will have to be applied, where this is favourable to the posted worker.

These changes will provide

· better protection for workers,

· more transparency and legal certainty

· ensure a level playing field between domestic and posting firms while in full respect of Member States' wage-bargaining systems.

Copy of GMB press release dated Thursday, February 25, 2016

GMB Engineering Construction Workers Protest In Scotland, Wales And Yorkshire On 1st March About Undercutting On Power Station Sites

Unscrupulous construction companies are exploiting non UK workers at rates of pay as low as £7 per hour rather than paying £16.64 per hour under the relevant UK collective agreements says GMB.

On Tuesday 1st March GMB members in engineering construction will hold three separate protest demonstrations in Wales, Scotland and Yorkshire against undercutting of workers on three energy from waste power station construction sites.

The client and main contractor on each of the sites are as follows:

The Margam Green Energy Plant, a £160m 40 MW biomass-fired power station under construction near Port Talbot, is owned by Glennmont Partners, on behalf of its dedicated clean energy fund, Glennmont Clean Energy Fund Europe II. Further funding will be provided by Deutsche Bank AG, supported by credit agency Eksport Kredit Fonden.

Viridor, owned by Pennon Group, are constructing a £177m 30 MW energy recovery facility in East Lothian, Scotland. 

Templeborough Biomass plant, a £150m 45 MW power station under construction in Rotherham, is owned by Templeborough Biomass power plant ltd.

The main contractor for all three sites is a consortium of Babcock Wilcox VØlund a/s (BWV) and Interserve Construction Ltd. VØlund is part of the Babcock & Wilcox Group, and provides process equipment and maintenance services whilst Interserve (Wales) is undertaking the civil engineering and building.

Skilled workers on these sites are being paid about £7 per hour. BWV has declined to follow National Agreement for the Engineering Construction Industry (NAECI) which covers infrastructure like power stations, oil refineries and transport installations. Under that agreement the rate for skilled workers is £16.64 per hour.

Under the EU Posted Workers Directive contractors employing labour from third countries are obliged to follow sector agreements like the NAECI agreement but increasingly employers are ignoring this legal requirement.

The details of the protests are as follows:

From 6.30am, Tuesday 1 March
Margam site, off Margam road
Heol Caer Bont, SA13 2NR

From 6.30am, Tuesday 1 March
Dunbar landfill,
Oxwellmains,
Dunbar, EH42 1SW

From 6.30am, Tuesday 1 March
Templeborough site,
First Rixon site Sheffield Road
Rotherham S60 1DP

Bob McNeill, GMB Regional organiser, said “GMB members have negotiated and honoured the Terms and Conditions of our National Agreement (NAECI) for decades and I support our members’ campaign for the National Agreement to be fully implemented on the Rotherham site.

Interserve and Babcock Wilcox VØlund are undermining our agreement by exploiting non UK workers and paying inferior terms and conditions. This is nothing other than social dumping"

Phil Whitehurst, GMB national officer for engineering construction, added“GMB members in the Engineering Construction Sector are being debarred from employment on energy from waste (EfW) facilities being built around the UK.

Unscrupulous construction companies using spurious umbrella companies exploit non UK workers at rates of pay as low as £7 per hour rather than paying £16.64 per hour which is the applicable rate through direct employment and utilising UK collective agreements.

This undercutting effectively disadvantages UK construction workers and subsequently GMB members.

GMB and Unite intend to launch a major campaign to get politicians in the UK and the European Union to implement the provisions of social Europe which were intended to go hand in hand with the free movement of labour across the European Union. As things stand we have a total one way street where undercutting of pay is happening on an industrial scale right across the UK. This cannot be allowed to continue.”

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