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S&Ds call on Commission to ensure liability through the subcontracting chain to better protect mobile workers


17 May 2021


Social Europe & Jobs

The Covid-19 crisis has exposed the severe structural problems faced by too many EU workers who have moved to a different EU country, especially in the agricultural, building and care sectors. In a plenary debate in the European Parliament later today, the Socialists and Democrats will call on the Commission to ensure general joint and several liability throughout the entire subcontracting chain. Strengthening the liability of main contractors in subcontracting chains by legally guaranteeing the payment of all social security contributions and worker’s entitlements would considerably improve the situation for mobile workers’ rights. The parliamentary report on mobile workers is set to be adopted this Wednesday by the full plenary of the European Parliament.

Alicia Homs, S&D MEP responsible for mobile workers, said:

“Mobile workers, who work in another EU country, lack protection. They run the very real risk that their employer suddenly vanishes into thin air once they have completed their job and then are left without pay or social security contributions. To put a stop to such exploitation we want the main contractors to shoulder greater responsibility. Should one of the subcontractors they have hired for a job not pay the workers their salary or their social security contributions, the main contractor will have to step in. We call on the Commission to ensure general joint and several liability throughout the whole subcontracting chain.

“Today, around 4% of EU citizens of working age reside in another EU country and a growing number of workers commute cross-border or are seasonal or posted workers.  We cannot allow the Single Market to be undermined by those pushing to weaken workers’ rights, lower salaries and worsen work conditions. The EU must step up its efforts to better protect these citizens who have followed the promise of free movement for all Europeans.

Agnes Jongerius, S&D MEP and spokesperson for employment and social rights, added:

“We must curb the trend of opening up the EU’s labour market to non-EU citizens on the basis of skills. This initiative may be well intended, but it comes at a high human cost. In contrast to using ‘qualifications’ as a basis, ‘skills’ are open to a wide range of interpretations and as a result we run the very real risk of increased exploitation of workers. Already today, employers and temporary work agencies in the Netherlands hire workers from Kazakhstan, Moldova, Nepal and the Philippines to work in logistics, transport, agriculture – and only too often under harsh conditions and undermining local work standards. All workers – be they local, mobile workers from other EU countries, or non EU-citizens – deserve to work and benefit from the same and high standards of the host country. Co-workers must be colleagues and not competitors driving a race to the bottom.”