CESI Employment Commission President welcomes the agreement achieved between EU Commission, EU Parliament and the Council on transparent and predictable working conditions

As the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament have achieved a provisional agreement on a new EU directive on transparent and predictable working conditions, the President of CESI’s Employment and Social Affairs Commission, Javier Jordán de Urries Sagarna, comments on the outcome of the negotiations, generally welcoming new safeguards for European workers in non-standard forms of employment.

As a European trade union umbrella confederation, during the past months, we have accompanied this dossier very closely, in steady dialogue with the Commission and the EU Parliament, and based on our opinion submitted to the Commission consultation procedure, we strongly objected a flat-rate public sector exclusion from the scope of the Directive.

To our dismay, the EP’s first draft report foresaw a public worker’s flat rate exclusion, yet this clause has been swiftly removed, not least following strong protests by CESI. In this regard, I would like to thank the MEPs for their constant availability and attention, especially Mr Calvet, to remove such clause from the directive.

Regrettably, certain groups of workers may still be excluded from some of the provisions, e.g. civil servants, armed forces, emergency services or law enforcement services.

I remember the intense discussions at CESI about (politically realistic) exclusions which would least affect our members.

We came to the conclusions that the articles and chapters concerned should be as scarce as possible, that the groups of professions concerned should be as limited as possible, and finally that exclusion should always be based on “objective grounds”, requiring an explicit (objective) justification and the respect of proportionality.

Especially the addition “on objective grounds” was a much advocated addition from CESI, since we believed that such obligation could open a considerable room of manoeuvre for our national trade unions in order to strictly limit exclusions (regarding both the professions and the articles concerned) to cases where they are absolutely necessary and unavoidable; establishing “objective grounds” by the member states authorities may often be tricky, legally and politically.

For instance, it may be difficult to state objective reasons for a worker from the above-mentioned group – e.g. a civil servant, a police officer or even a soldier – to be excluded from the right to training (mentioned in Chapter III), as such exclusion may eventually not make sense.

On the other hand, derogations may not be totally unfounded either, if you think for instance of a longer probationary period for judges. (However, particularly in this latter case, it appears as an overzealous precaution to exclude groups of workers from the chapter, if the Member States maintain the possibility to extend the duration of the probation period for certain workers).

Altogether, we can, therefore, deplore that the current agreement does not totally reflect our expectations. But it is a political realistic compromise that draws limits to exclusions and opens major rooms of manoeuvre for trade unions at the national level, in particular when moulding it into national law.

Despite all pros and cons: This directive should pave the way for more secure (not only transparent) and predictable work, and will allow more determined action against precariousness in all forms of employment.

And this, we can only welcome with the expectation that this provisional agreement will be adopted definitively as quickly as possible.

Because all workers count!

For more information:
Provisional agreement on a new Directive to create more transparent and predictable working conditions
CESI contributions to the first phase social partner consultations on access to social protection and a possible revision of the Written Statement Directive
CESI contributions to the second phase social partner consultations on access to social protection and a possible revision of the Written Statement Directive

Picture: CESI Employment and Social Affairs Commission President Javier Jordán de Urries Sagarna (CSIF) © CESI 2018