08 Apr 2008


Social Europe & Jobs

After the Laval-Vaxholm case in Sweden and the Viking Line case in Finland, we now have the Rüffert case in Germany. Once again, within the space of a couple of weeks, the European Court of Justice has just handed down a ruling legitimating "social dumping".
Each time it bases its judgement on the European treaties, the directives resulting from these and its own case law to cover the refusal of a company to respect a collective agreement.

This time around, it is the Polish subcontractor of a German company that it is exonerated, while this company paid its workers less than 50% of the minimum wage provided for by the applicable collective agreement. The reason put forward by the Court to justify such a scandalous decision is the principle of the "freedom to provide services" - in other words Article 49 of the treaty in force, which prohibits any restriction to this freedom. The minimum wage prescribed by the collective agreement in question is, indeed, considered by the applicable collective agreement as a "restriction of the freedom to provide services" and is "not justified in this case by the objective of ensuring the protection of workers."

How do we think wage-earners see themselves in this kind of European model? Nevertheless, the famous "article 49" has been fully integrated into the draft Lisbon Treaty, which is now in the process of ratification. This is why I have repeatedly requested for several weeks now, on behalf of my Group - The European United Left-Nordic Green Left (GUE-NGL) - that a debate on the lessons to be drawn from these repeated rulings be put on the Parliament's agenda. The majority has, up to now, been opposed to this. I call on those who support the idea of a Europe with a social ambition - and particularly trade union activists and elected representatives - to support our approach. Stop low-cost Europe!

GUE/NGL Press:
Gianfranco Battistini +32 475 64 66 28
Gay Kavanagh +32 473 842 320


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