Workforce Mobility in the EU

ANG/SW – 04/2023

Truck drivers from Georgia and Uzbekistan have now been on strike at a service area near Darmstadt for several weeks to protest against poor working conditions, working hours violations and non-payment of wages by their Polish employer. This event is now being discussed at European level. On 19 April, Members of Parliament (MEPs) met the European Commission (EC) and the Council at a plenary session held in Strasbourg. Exasperation with the working conditions of the drivers was high across party lines.

Mobility Package I - also for nationals from third-countries

The EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, emphasised that the EC is committed to fair mobility and referred to Mobility Package I from 2020, which includes measures to guarantee that social rights are applied equally to nationals from third-countries when employed in the EU.

European Pillar of Social Rights

He also explained that all EU countries had made a joint commitment under the European Pillar of Social Rights to ensure that all people working in the EU had a right to fair working conditions, fair pay and a guarantee of an adequate standard of living. Schmit told MEPs that there should not be two classes of workers in the EU.

Council's recommendation about strengthening social dialogue

The directive about adequate minimum wages also provides for a strong collective bargaining role. The EC put forward a Council recommendation about strengthening social dialogue to make collective bargaining at national level easier.

Member states have a duty

According to Schmit, the existing laws must be consistently implemented by the member states. They should revoke approval for companies if the EU’s regulations are not being complied with. An information system should also be set up to make the exchanging of information easier between national authorities. The European Labour Authority should also have the power to carry out coordinated joint inspections.

Initial partial success achieved

Some wages have been paid after talks with the strikers and the company. One German company has also terminated its contract with the Polish logistics company. On 26 April, the transport company finally accepted the conditions, and the strike came to an end. However, the issue will continue to preoccupy European politics.