COVID proved need for EU-wide minimum wage standard

Labour MEP Alfred Sant: “more care and attention should be given to the workers of Europe. AsCOVID-19 has shown, they are also valuable”

Labour MEP Alfred Sant
Labour MEP Alfred Sant

The COVID crisis had underlined the urgent need to ensure that essential workers, cleaners, health and agricultural workers earn a more adequate minimum wage, Labour MEP Alfred Sant said on the EU minimum wage directive approved by MEPs.

MEPs endorsed the EU standardisation for minimum wage laws by 443 votes, for 198 against and 58 abstentions. The main objective of the draft directive on the adequate minimum wages is to establish the minimum requirements for a decent standard of living for workers and their families in European member states.

“At times where trade union revitalisation is needed, the directive will also ensure that employers provide trade union representatives with appropriate information, facilities and access to the workplace and workers,” Sant said.

The Labour MEP said this should not be a “one size fits all” solution, noting that “as it now stands, the text is sufficiently flexible to allow for reasonable divergences on a national basis to take into account long-standing and legitimate practices of wage-bargaining in specific sectors.”

Sant said more care and attention should be given to the workers of Europe. “As the COVID-19 crisis has shown, they are also valuable.”

The new 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.

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This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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