PES welcomes plan to protect workers from labour exploitation

29/09/2021

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson at the press conference today on the Report on Migration and Asylum, the renewed EU action plan against migrant smuggling and the Communication on the application of the Employers Sanctions Directive

European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson at the press conference today on the Report on Migration and Asylum, the renewed EU action plan against migrant smuggling and the Communication on the application of the Employers Sanctions Directive

Plans to improve and strengthen the EU Employers Sanctions Directive are a welcome move to uphold minimum labour standards and protect irregular workers, the Party of European Socialists (PES) said today.

The proposals – put forward this afternoon by European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson – will allow Member States to more effectively sanction employers who profit from labour exploitation. It will also ensure irregular workers have access to effective complaint mechanisms and are able to claim payment for outstanding wages. To maximise its effectiveness, Member States should ensure social partners are more systematically engaged in facilitating exploited workers’ complaints.

Commissioner Johansson is also urging Member States to increase the rate of labour inspections, exchange best practices and harmonise the various sanctions schemes for labour exploitation that currently exist across the EU. Alongside this, Member States must also ensure that employers are informed of their obligations to employees and of the risks associated with non-compliance.

PES President Sergei Stanishev said:

“Workers’ rights must be for all workers, and they must be upheld. We cannot accept that any worker is exploited today in Europe. Poor conditions and underpayment are still a reality for too many people, especially irregular workers. It is right that the EU examines how to improve strategies and sanctions to prevent this kind of abuse by exploitative employers.

“Member States should encourage and support migrant workers and all workers to report abuse. We need to ensure that bad employers face consequences for bad practice. This will protect those who are direct victims, but also promote quality work and high standards for all workers. At the same time, safeguards must be put in place to enable engagement for workers without fear of immigration enforcement as a result.”

Other proposals unveiled today by Commissioner Johansson are further welcome news. A European Commission action plan on anti-smuggling will make sure that smugglers who exploit vulnerable people are effectively sanctioned, and that migrants are protected from human rights violations.

The PES urges the EU to make progress on a common approach to migration and asylum. With the EU Pact on Migration and Asylum, Commissioner Johansson has shown real leadership and delivered a principled and workable plan. The humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and the dire situation on the border of Belarus have made it clear that the EU must urgently move forwards on the Pact.

The PES commends Commissioner Johansson for her continuing work to address the ongoing challenges at Europe’s external borders. On Thursday she will travel to Warsaw to discuss the situation on the Poland-Belarus border.

The EU needs a progressive, managed and orderly EU asylum and migration policy based on true solidarity, bringing a better balance of responsibility among countries, and stronger commitments on resettlement. Social democrats and socialists are committed to working together with the EU institutions and Member States to reach a balanced outcome close to our core values of solidarity, real responsibility sharing, respecting the right for asylum, and respecting humanitarian and fundamental rights.