European minimum wage framework proposal: Improvements needed to a much-needed policy initiative

On October 28 the European Commission put forward a proposal for a directive on adequate minimum wages for workers across Member States. After a preliminary assessment, CESI welcomes the proposal but calls for improvements to make the planned directive fit to deliver.

After a preliminary assessment, CESI:

  • positively notes the envisaged broad scope of the directive (article 2), but recalls the need for a European legal clarification on the status of platform workers (which CESI has long been calling for) and an explicit inclusion into the minimum wage framework of the precarious (bogus) solo self-employed, who should have the right to collective bargaining, in order to increase its impact for many who are economically active in precarious situations;
  • welcomes the planned requests towards Member States to issue action plans where collective bargaining coverage is below 70% (article 4), but wonders what are the consequences would be if an action plan would not deliver improvements in terms of higher wage levels;
  • on article 5, is concerned about the lack of a clear definition of “adequacy” of minimum wage levels, since no quantifiable objective is proposed, and about the lacking of a clear timeframe to review and update minimum wage levels in the Member States;
  • considers that article 6 on variations and deductions could legitimise existing loopholes for categories of workers in the Member States even if it should be a central objective of the EU framework to close gaps;
  • strongly favours, in article 7, that all social partners are involved in the setting, reviewing and updating of national minimum wages – and not just the biggest one;
  • very much welcomes the suggestion to tie public procurement effectively and systematically to requirements for successful tenders to apply minimum wages to their staff.

“The support for strong collective bargaining to set decent wages in the Member States is a priority that CESI also advocates for. Here, we are pleased to be in synchronicity with the European Commission’s proposal”, CESI President Romain Wolff said. “Our goal, regardless of the institution or governance level, should always be to ensure decent working and living conditions for workers, especially those in precarious employment conditions, and if this can be achieved in the frame of a strengthened collective bargaining, then this is perfect”, Romain Wolff concluded.

CESI Secretary-General Klaus Heeger, added: “We agree with Commissioner Schmit that collective bargaining should be the golden rule across the Member States. However, we believe that where social dialogue and collective bargaining fail to deliver minimum wages, at least at the at-risk-of-poverty threshold, there should be a clear path set by the framework to achieve this. In this respect, the proposal of the European Commission should be strengthened during upcoming negotiations between the European Parliament and the Council.”

CESI will analyse the European Commission’s proposal in greater detail within its statutory organs, for a detailed assessment.

Further information about the proposal on the European Commission’s website

CESI’s contribution to the second-phase social partner consultation on an EU minimum wage framework (2020)

CESI’s contribution to first-phase social partner consultation on an EU minimum wage framework (2020)