Posting of Workers Directive: Construction SMEs need a level-playing field 

Brussels, 17th October 2017 – The European Builders Confederation (EBC) welcomes yesterday’s approval of the report on the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive by the European Parliament’s Employment and Social Affairs Committee with 32 votes in favour, 8 against and 13 abstentions. As the only employer’s representative supporting the needed revision of the original 1996 Directive, EBC is satisfied with this step forward that will improve the proper functioning of the internal market for construction companies and workers. In particular, EBC welcomes:

  • the attempt to prevent unfair competition through the inclusion of the elements of remuneration for posted workers;
  • the deletion of the 6-months rule for cumulative duration of posting;
  • the increased role given to Member States regarding the monitoring and control of implementation (e.g. highest importance of the single official national website);
  • the possibility given to Member States to apply specific collective agreements set at the local or sectoral levels; 
  • the stress on improving cooperation between Member states;
  • the strong mandate given by the EMPL committee to enter into trilogue negotiations.

Next to these positive developments, some articles still raise concerns in the construction industry. This is especially the case for its overwhelming of majority of construction SMEs and craftsmen which have been losing local jobs and facing unfair competition, while posted workers have been receiving lower salaries and social protection. Building on the constructive steps made by the European Parliament, EBC would like to see the following improvements regarding this crucial dossier for the construction industry, especially in view of the next EPSCO meeting on 23 October: 

Duration of posting: Although satisfied with the withdrawal of the limit of 6 months for cumulative duration regarding posting activities, EBC regrets that the final report does not foresee any prior employment contractual relationship between the employee and the construction company before starting any posted activity in another country. Moreover, EBC considers that the European sectoral social partners should play a key role in fixing the posting duration according to the real situation in their sector of activity.

Levels of remuneration: EBC fully supports the principle ‘equal pay for equal work at the same place’ in posting situations and, for this reason, welcomes the introduction of the concept of “remuneration”. Moreover, EBC appreciates the possibility given to Member States to apply agreements set at sub-national level but regrets that the decision has been left to their good will. Indeed, in some countries salary levels are not set in collective agreements at national level, but at regional or local levels. For this reason, EBC wishes that the final text will fully include wage agreements set at sub-national level.

Temporary work agencies: The proposals on temporary agencies fall short of addressing the issue of hiring workers on an ad-hoc basis from interim agencies, too often with the only purpose to post workers to another country. According to EBC, interim work agencies should have been excluded from providing workers in posting situations as they are not construction companies and have a disruptive effect by creating a parallel market of interim workers in the industry. The relationship between the Posting of Workers Directive and the Temporary Agency Work Directive has to be clarified to avoid loopholes and additional possibilities to circumvent the rules on agency workers.

EBC President Patrick Liébus
said: “We welcome the vote but we hope that the upcoming meeting of European Ministers for Employment will improve the needed rules on duration of posting, levels of remuneration and interim agencies. This revision is crucial for construction SMEs as posted workers represent around 5% of the total construction workforce, more than 40% of all posted workers in the EU. This is why the concerns of construction SMEs, representing around 99.9% of this industry, must be properly taken into account: we need a level playing field that guarantees protection of fair competition and workers’ rights! ”

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