Social Partners : Seilliere: "This Is Not the Moment to Quarrel"
The mantra of the need to "avoid protectionism" was recited by representatives of European employers and trade unions during their meeting, on 25 February, with the whole College of Commissioners. According to the European Commission, this historic first meeting was "necessary" in light of the effects of the financial crisis on the Union's labour market. The commissioners' aim was to gather input from the social partners ahead of the informal crisis' summit of EU heads of state and government, on 1 March, the spring European Council and the employment summit', scheduled for May. The social partners are important for gaining the trust of EU employers and workers in the EU executive's policies, Commission sources explained.
TRADE UNIONS CRITICAL
In his heated contribution, John Monks, chairman of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), called for a "second recovery plan" to the tune of 2% of the EU's gross domestic product. He criticised the Commission's priorities on the specific issue of posted workers, and in general those that relate to the "fundamental rights of workers". While ETUC believes that the directive on posted workers is ripe for review, the Commission continues to insist that a revision should be preceded by the thorough analysis of the problems of the directive's current implementation. This joint analysis by the social partners is not progressing as expected.
According to Monks, the Commission's response to this "tough" crisis should be "more powerful and coordinated". This response should entail "a stern, even angry determination to prevent any recurrence of the type of casino capitalism which caused the crisis". He also saw the need for measures to stimulate demand and purchasing power "as part of a new social deal' for workers," and said that a "social progress protocol" was likewise wanted. Monks said that Europe's plans should match those of the US, highlighting the "security of flexicurity" and the need to make workers "more confident" as tools to prevent the Union from yielding to the temptations of protectionism and nationalism. …