The European Pillar of Social Rights wants to provide security for the European citizens. Regardless of the type and duration of their employment relationship, workers, and, under comparable conditions, the self-employed, have the right to adequate social protection. When in employment the workers should have the right to a high level of protection of their health and safety at work, therefore their working environment should be adapted to their professional needs which should enable them to prolong their participation in the labour market.
Marie-Anne Paraskevas (DG EMPL) on March 28 spoke about the involvement and implementation of the social pillars and pointed out that we should look for employment innovation programs with shared and direct management.
She loves to see going 2% for the most deprived and 10% earmarking for youth, made available for education and training. Our society must take care that the children living in the Union have the right to affordable early childhood education and care of good quality plus have the right to protection from poverty. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds also should have the right to specific measures to enhance equal opportunities.
In the 9th pillar is marked that parents and people with caring responsibilities have the right to suitable leave, flexible working arrangements and access to care services. Women and men shall have equal access to special leaves of absence in order to fulfil their caring responsibilities and be encouraged to use them in a balanced way.
We should look forward to employment inclusion with the objective to active inclusion but at all times there should be a work-life balance approach. Ms. Paraskevas asks therefore more social inclusion, more healthcare and a pension reform.
Workers and the self-employed in retirement have the right to a pension commensurate to their contributions and ensuring an adequate income. at the moment we can see that in many states of the Union people are not receiving enough money to live reasonably comfortable. A lot of work still has to be done also for getting women and men having equal opportunities to acquire pension rights. All member-states should provide everyone in old age the right to resources that ensure living in dignity.
Lieve Verboven brought some ILO-reflections with her and pointed out that gender equality, learning, social protection and labour convention are fundamental.
Potential is there when we can take as the 1st step a more human agenda and a global commission report.
I think we should get more people to think about one united cluster of states where everybody should count on the many purveyances to build up a comfortable life when working but also after the work period, when one should enjoy retirement, having access to a private house, social housing or housing assistance of good quality and having the right to appropriate assistance and protection against forced eviction or having adequate shelter and services provided to the homeless in order to promote their social inclusion. Each member of the Union having the right to access essential services of good quality, including water, sanitation, energy, transport, financial services and digital communications. Support for access to such services should be made available for those in need.
Rebekah Smith from Business Europe, wants to see the Gothenburg implications and finds the preamble important for member states. Though there should always be respect for the national identity of member states. According to her the social partners their role should be clear and involved in Semester getting representing partners effecting cohesion. At the moment she sees only 20% implementation nationally in the transposition which means there has to be more flexibility.
Paraskevas would like to see an adoption of the pillar report to be made with an investment guidance by 2023.
Ben Egan, advisor of ETUC, mentioned that legislatively the European Pillar of Social Rights has to be based on social human rights, with a workplace democracy and management boards and an occupation and health service.
At the moment we can find to much anxiety at the workfloor and we are missing a coherent vision for the labour-market in the whole union.
Conny Reuter (SOLIDAR) warned that we have to wake-up and notice the danger of of the Nordic model. We should all be aware that it is a danger for the democracy. I would add that it also undermines the possibility to have a balanced good living society. For him
“More rights is the matter.”
It is a social reality that the quality of life is going downwards and that we have to make improvements, tackling the social issues. We need a “game changer” according to him and shall have to invest more in education and social issues, also looking for innovative ways of working and providing a better infrastructure for childcare and more women involvement.
According to me it is high time that member states stop putting political posturing above the interests of citizens. It is necessary to have better and clearer social security coordination rules for people who work in another member state. Wherever a person comes to work in a country of the European Union, he or she should receive the same condition as other workers of the country he or she is working in. That way we shall also reduce the use of Polish workers at cheap labour or slave conditions.
We have to show people how important it is that all countries in the Union come on one line.
Making the European Pillar of Social Rights a reality for citizens is a joint responsibility. While most of the tools to deliver on the Pillar are in the hands of Member States, as well as social partners and civil society, the European Union institutions – and the European Commission in particular – can help by setting the framework and giving the direction. It is up to our politicians to do the work for unity and not for division.
Countries may not undermine the system by creating “flexi jobs” or “jobs, jobs, jobs” filling them in with part-time jobs not providing enough money to survie for the employee. We must be aware of the danger of today’s more flexible working arrangements providing new job opportunities especially for the young which can potentially give rise to new precariousness and inequalities. The Commission wants to explore ways of providing as many people as possible with social security cover, including self-employed and gig-economy workers. In practice, these people should also be able to build up rights against contributions.
Therefore the member states have to take measures allowing their citizens to build up and take up adequate social benefits as members of a scheme (adequate effective coverage) and facilitating the transfer of social security benefits between schemes. We also need to increase transparency regarding social security systems and rights, also facilitating going from one state to live and work in an other. On that part there has still to be done a lot of work. Best would we see the governments forcing the different insurance companies looking for a reasonable solution.
Adequate access to social protection and employment services is crucial not just for the economic and social safety of the workforce, but also for well-functioning labour markets and resilient economies that create quality jobs and sustainable growth.
The link between the right and obligation to social protection and the form of employment or self-employment is becoming increasingly problematic. Historically, social protection has primarily been developed in relation to workers in standard employment (i.e full time permanent work). Other groups of employed people, like self-employed and people in non-standard work, have been more marginally covered.
While digitalisation brings new opportunities for jobs and innovation, the ongoing digital change further enables new flexible work arrangements as it breaks down many space, time and organizational boundaries of work and opens more options in terms of where and when to work. Different relationships between employer, employee and customer are emerging rapidly, blurring the boundaries of employment and self-employment known so far. In some cases the self-employed status is being used where de facto a subordinate employment relationship exists. In cases where the status of self-employment significantly changes the right to be covered and the obligation to pay social insurance contributions, people may be pushed to become formally self-employed to lower non-wage labour costs.
Since these forms of employment constitute a rising share of job-opportunities – notably for the young –, a growing part of the working population risks being left without the support of adequate social protection and employment services that they need in order to manage their working careers and lives in ever more rapidly changing labour markets, with increased transitions between employment forms and statuses. The accumulated effects of such disparities in entitlements are likely to give rise to new inter- and intra-generational inequalities between those that have or manage to gain employment on standard contracts with full social rights and those who do not.
Altogether self-employment and non-standard forms of work represent a significant share of the labour market. In 2015, 15% of the totally 221 million employed in the EU were self-employed, 12% were temporary employees, 14% were part-time employees and 58% were employees with a full-time permanent contract. All together, this initiative getting more states ready to implement the Pillars could potentially affect 41% of people in employment.
Some Member States have begun to adapt their labour market institutions and social protection systems to these new developments. Some reforms have been introduced to ensure access to social protection of workers in non-standard forms of employment and, more recently, to regulate the new forms of self-employment. But most Member States are still struggling to find an adequate response to the ‘changing nature of work’. For example, unemployment insurance is not accessible for the self-employed in 10 Member States. Almost a third of people on temporary full-time contracts in the EU do not qualify for unemployment benefits with variation between Member States ranging from 3% to 70%.
We would love to see the industry not fleeing Europe to find “cheaper workforce”, but them going for quality and European know-how. Europeans should also be fully aware of the danger of the seemingly very attractive Scandinavian model. they may not forget that the use of immigrants as slaves (having them not to pay for 6 months) undermines the employment of the local population and lower working class, because the employers happy with their cheap labour, able to produce more at no extra cost, will not grieve not to accept local people to pay.
The populist trend which we see all over the capitalist world with extreme right politicians wanting the people to believe an heaven on earth without immigrants, is something we should counter with offering enough protection by implication of this necessary European Pillar of Social Rights.
An European alliance or a populist alliance