Speaking ahead of a debate and vote on a resolution in the European Parliament later today on how to better protect cross-border and seasonal workers, especially in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, Agnes Jongerius, S&D MEP and spokesperson on employment, said:
“As a vital workforce on farms and slaughterhouses, cross-border and seasonal workers ensured we had fresh food on our table during the lock-down, yet they were too often denied basic workers’ and social rights. Large outbreaks of COVID-19 infections in the agro-food business revealed a lack of protective measures and exploitation. Only yesterday, a new scandal in Europe’s biggest slaughterhouse with hundreds of new infections shines a flashlight on the miserable working conditions, lack of safe transport and decent accommodation, where ‘social distancing’ is an unattainable luxury. Workers cannot be treated as disposables.
“It must become possible to hold employers and temporary agencies accountable for their misconduct. We need clear conditions for the establishment of temporary agencies and much more enforcement by enhanced labour inspectorates in the member states. Workers deserve equal treatment and equal pay at their workplace. We expect the Commission to revise existing directives and to propose comprehensive guidelines to ensure seasonal and cross-border workers are treated fair and stay safe.”
Gabriele Bischoff, S&D MEP and responsible for social security coordination, added:
“The freedom to live and work in another EU country is a pillar of our European Union. But labour mobility must not only be free, it must also be fair. Too many of the 1.9 million posted workers and 2.3 million cross-border workers in Europe are denied their guaranteed workers’ and social rights. To remedy this unfair situation, the European Labour Agency must play its full role, especially concerning labour inspections of work-sites and reporting abuse. We call on member states to urgently conclude the negotiations on social security coordination. Only with modern and fit-for the purpose rules and a European Social Security number can we put an end to social fraud and the abuse of mobile workers.”