There are more than 2.5 million posted workers and about 1.4 million crossborder workers and these numbers are getting higher by the year. Among them there are low skilled, but also some highly educated and skilled workers. In circumstances where there is a growing need for new labour force, this type of work provides temporary services in countries where the workers have been sent to, but it can also be breeding ground for misuse, unpaid work, unfair competition for employers, as well as tax evasion and the violation of fiscal policy. Either way, it affects working conditions and the position of workers.
We were informed about this at the international workshop ’’Protect our workers’’, which was held in Belgrade on the 5th and 6th of March as part of the project ’’Facilitating transnational administrative cooperation and improve access to information and counselling of posted workers’’. At the meeting, which was attended by representatives of the trade unions OPZZ (Poland), Cartel Alfa (Romania), ZSSS (Slovenia), GWU (Malta), CGIL (Italia), LPSK (Lithuania), CATUS (Serbia), as well as the representatives from ASITECO (Spain),it was pointed out that the recently modified revised Directive 957/2018 (which promotes the principle- equal pay for equal work), although encouraging, is only the starting point and is certainly insufficient to solve the numerous problems. At the same time, it enforces positive, fruitful activity of trade unions and companies.
Current political and scholarly debates fixate almost exclusively on risks of ‘social dumping’, cross-border social fraud and displacement of domestic jobs. Debate is strongly focused on low-skilled posted workers moving from low-wage to high-wage Member States. This tunnel vision has marginalised the use of posting and has influenced public acceptance as well as European and national policies. Potential benefits of EU posting from the perspective of the Member State of origin as well as that of the host Member State are hardly ever cited.
With the lack of statistics, we have to rely on facts such as: the detailed analysis of the benefits and costs of EU posting and the overview of potential ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. Posted workers, trade unions, as well as institutions that are dealing with these issues are not well-informed. We can see that by looking at the preliminary results of the research that was conducted within the project, which covered 250 respondents from 8 partner countries.
In order for EU posting to achieve a ’’triple win’’ (bringing benefits to host Member States, Member States, and candidate countries of origin, as well as the posted workers themselves), posted workers, trade unions and institutions that deal with these issues need to be better informed. It is necessary that they promote good practices of transnational cooperation and social dialogue at the national and European level. The cooperation amongst inspection bodies that are responsible for control and the exchange of information concerning the violation of regulations is also necessary.
The participants recommend: more media coverage, a better informed public and sharing via social media, a launch campaign through press conferences and the promotion of good bilateral practices, as well as the role of trade unions in the protection of the workers’ interests.