Green light for European minimum wage talks with Council

MEPs vote in favour of dialogue with European Council on Europe-wide statutory protection for minimum wage

MEPs have voted in favour with 443 votes, for 198 against and 58 abstentions to start talks on a Europe-wide minimum wage law with EU member states in the Council.

The law will guarantee minimum levels of wage protection across the European Union either through national laws or collective agreements between businesses and stakeholders.

This process was started back in October of 2020 when the Commission adopted a proposal for protection and statutory minimum wages to be set at adequate levels, clear and stable criteria for setting minimum wages, regular and timely updates, and the establishment of consultative bodies to advise the authorities.

The directive would limit to a minimum any wage variations and deductions as a priority, alongside ensuring that social partners are effectively involved in statutory minimum wage setting and updating.
According to the draft law, member states have to assess and report on whether statutory minimum wages are sufficient by using criteria to put in place decent working and living conditions and include elements such as purchasing power and the poverty rate.

Member states in which the minimum wage is protected exclusively via collective agreements will not be obliged to introduce statutory wages or to make these agreements universally applicable.

The draft directive explicitly aims to strengthen and extend the coverage of collective bargaining and protect workers by providing them with a minimum wage via these negotiations. Member states in which collective bargaining is available to less than 80% of the workforce, should take active steps to promote this tool. To design the best strategy for this purpose, they should consult social partners and inform the European Commission of the adopted measures.

Moreover, it will be explicitly forbidden to undermine collective bargaining or collective agreements on wage setting. Workers must be able to join a trade union and cannot be obstructed from doing so.

National authorities should ensure that workers have a right to redress, if their rights are infringed. Workers must be adequately compensated and be able to recover any remuneration due. National authorities must also take the necessary measures to protect workers and trade union representatives from being treated unfairly by their employer because of a complaint that they have lodged or any other proceeding initiated to enforce their rights.

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