PES Social Europe Network: it is time for fair minimum wages in the EU

27/10/2020

SEN meeting by videoconference

PES Social Europe Network meeting by videoconference

The EU can and must act to guarantee fair pay for all Europeans, socialist and democrats said today as they urged Member States and MEPs to support an EU framework directive for minimum wages when it is brought forward.

Implementing this progressive policy is a clear step towards a fairer and more equal Europe, Socialist and Democrat MEPs, representatives from PES member parties and organisation, and civil society agreed as they met today for the PES Social Europe Network.

The European Commission is set to publish its proposal on the framework tomorrow, 28 October, having completed the second stage of a consultation with social partners last month.

Network Chair and MEP Agnes Jongerius said:

“In-work poverty is a scar on our Union. It persists across Member States and the current crisis is only making it worse. This cannot continue. Socialists and democrats are determined to act. Work must pay.

“We are strongly behind a framework directive for minimum wages. We are constructing the dam which will protect workers from the pressures to lower wages. At the same time, we are bringing forth a positive wage development through covering more workers under collective agreements across Europe. It should reflect the different systems in Member States, but it must be focused on one goal – just wages for all workers.

“I want to commend Commissioner Schmit, who is fighting hard to deliver this. It has long been a priority on our political agenda and now we have the chance to make it a reality, for the benefit of all workers. The current circumstances make it even more urgent, to give a much-needed boost to the many low-paid essential workers and as part of the answer to the rising risks of poverty. The re-stockers in the supermarkets, maternity nurses and parcel deliverers and all those others who are keeping our society afloat should be guaranteed decent pay.

“Socialists call on everyone to get behind fair wages for all Europeans.”

Fair wages - founded on minimum wages or collective bargaining - was a central demand of the PES manifesto for the 2019 European elections. Delivering this is an important step forward to a truly fair and social Europe. The whole PES political family stands ready to mobilise and support the initiative.

The Network also discussed the upcoming European Parliament report on the implementation of the European Pillar of Social Rights, prepared by Network Chair and MEP Agnes Jongerius as co-rapporteur.

The adoption of Pillar in 2017 marked an important step in the fight to make the EU more social. But more work needs to be done to translate its 20 principles into concrete actions.

Today’s Social Europe Network expressed strong support for the European Social Action Plan that will be brought forward next year by Commissioner Schmit, which aims to put the Pillar into practice.

The meeting discussed progressives goals for the Plan, including: fair wages, ending insecure zero-hours contracts, justice for platform workers, youth employment and the Youth Guarantee, ending child poverty, and closing the gender pay gap. A new and firm governance structure to reach this is needed.

Meeting participants also exchanged on two upcoming PES discussion papers, covering wellbeing and sustainability.