Trade unionists from all over Europe will gather in Strasbourg next Tuesday in an effort to prevent what the labour movement is calling a ‘St Valentine’s pay massacre’.
They plan to protest on 14 February against the controversial EU Services Directive, which they claim will allow staff from other European countries to work in the UK with the same wages and safety levels they would get in their home country.
The directive aims to allow service providers to operate more easily across borders. It will affect a vast range of businesses such as hotels, restaurants and construction, and also mentions public services such as healthcare and environmental services.
John Monks, general secretary of the European TUC, said: “If the law is adopted in its current form, far from creating a level playing field for service providers and raising standards across EU member states, it will encourage unfair competition and will undermine existing worker rights and conditions.”
Unions want all ‘general interest’ services to be excluded, including health, welfare and social care, education and prison services.
But employers’ groups hit back at what they called union “propaganda”.
Miles Templeman, director-general at the Institute of Directors, said: “This directive does not affect national-level employment rights such as minimum pay, working hours, or maternity pay.
“MEPs should ignore the misleading propaganda about ‘social dumping’. This is about building a more prosperous European economy.”