Tackling social dumping: MEPs call for fair wages and social justice for workers

Workers do not enjoy the same level of social protection within the EU. Faced with increased competition some businesses resort to social dumping in order to reduce their labour costs. This could lead to workers being exploited as cheap labour. During last week’s plenary session, MEPs called for this unfair practice to be ended. They also discussed measures to help reconcile work, private and family life and minimum income schemes.

MEPs urge action against social dumping

Social dumping

Social dumping is about reducing labour costs using illegal and exploitative practices. It primarily concerns sectors such as agriculture, construction, catering, transport, heath and domestic services.

Silhouette of a man working ©AP Images/ European Union-EP
©AP Images/ European Union-EP

European companies are able to use their workers in another member state on a temporary basis, but this can be abused by for example setting up bogus letterbox companies, or using successive postings to ensure the workers used are paid a lot less than other workers in that country. Enterprises can also pressure workers into declaring themselves as self-employed to avoid national insurance contributions.

During the September plenary MEPs adopted a report by French S&D member Guillaume Balas, which calls social dumping “a wide range of intentionally abusive practices and the circumvention of existing European and national legislation”.

The report comes at an important time as there will be a revision of the controversial Posting of Workers Directive.

Minimum income

Social dumping, unemployment and low wages increase the risk of poverty and social exclusion. During the September plenary, MEPs also discussed minimum income schemes for the EU.

German GUE/NGL member Thomas Händel, chair of the employment committee, said that the Parliament insisted that “an appropriate minimum income of at least 60% of the average wage of the given member state should be applied, allowing basic costs of living to be covered and at the same time this would (...) aid the recovery of the economy (...).”

A better work-life balance


Finding a suitable balance between the demands of work, family commitments and personal life is a significant challenge for everyone, especially women with children and people caring for older family members. On 13 September MEPs adopted report addressing the issue written by Lithuanian S&D member Vilija Blinkevičiūtė and Latvian Greens/EFA member Tatjana Ždanoka. Ždanoka pointed out: "Life consists not only of work. There also has to be room for family and personal life."

The report calls for improving legislation on parental leave and stresses the importance of quality child care services and flexible forms of work. “Fathers should be more involved in sharing family responsibilities in order to improve gender equality,' said Blinkevičiūtė.