Bold measures needed to protect cross-border and seasonal workers in EU, MEPs say

workers

(Arron Choi, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


MEPs call for urgent action to safeguard health, safety and fair working conditions of cross-border and seasonal workers in the context of COVID-19

The COVID-19-crisis has further exposed and exacerbated social dumping and the existing precariousness of the situations of many mobile workers employed in the EU’s agri-food, construction and healthcare sectors.

In a resolution adopted on Friday, Parliament urges the Commission to assess the employment, health and safety conditions of cross-border and seasonal workers, including the role of intermediary agencies and subcontracting firms, to identify shortcomings in EU and national legislation and, possibly, revise the existing EU laws. The text also calls for a swift and balanced agreement on the coordination of social security systems that is needed to combat social fraud and the abuse of mobile workers’ rights.

Urgent measures needed to protect seasonal and cross-border workers

MEPs urge the Commission to issue new, specific guidelines for cross-border and seasonal workers in the context of COVID-19, to propose long-term solutions to deal with abusive subcontracting practices and to ensure that the European Labour Authority (ELA) becomes fully operational as a matter of priority. Member states must increase the capacity of labour inspectorates and ensure quality housing, which should be decoupled from their remuneration, says the text.

The resolution was adopted with 593 votes in favour, 34 against and 38 abstentions.

Next steps

The European Commission is expected to present guidelines to protect cross border and seasonal workers shortly.

Background

In 2018, the largest number of cross-border workers went from Poland to work in Germany (125 000 people, many of them working within the construction field), from France to Luxembourg (88 000), from Germany to Luxembourg (52 000), from Slovakia to Austria (48 000, most of them women working in the healthcare sector in Austria) and from France to Belgium (46 000).

An estimated 800 000 to one million seasonal workers are hired in the EU each year, mainly in the agri-food sector: 370 000 in Italy, 300 000 in Germany, 276 000 in France and 150 000 in Spain.

Seasonal and cross-border workers can be employed in another EU member state based on their right to free movement within the EU. The legislation of the host member states applies based on the principle of equal treatment. Access to unemployment benefits and social protection is regulated through the coordination of social security systems, currently under review. 1.3 million people in the EU live in one member state and work in another.

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