France's bid to fight against low-cost workers

20th of December 2013
France's bid to fight against low-cost workers

The French government is seeking support from fellow EU member states to tackle social dumping by revising the EU posted workers directive. However its efforts are meeting opposition from the UK and countries of eastern Europe.

France wants to tackle the problem of 'posted workers' who are sent to another EU country on a temporary basis, often at a lower cost. According to a 1996 EU directive, posted workers have to comply with the labour law of the host country, a measure aimed at guaranteeing equal pay.

However employers pay social contributions in the country of origin, which can create a gap in labour costs and boost benefits for companies.

The number of posted workers in France has soared since EU enlargement in 2004. Between 2006 and 2011 their number has multiplied by four, rising from 38,000 to 145,000.

Paris is looking for partners at EU level that will support the call for tougher rules on these "low-cost" workers. But EU negotiations to revise the posted workers directive have stalled. The last meeting of Social Affairs Ministers in October failed to reach a compromise. While France and countries like Belgium, Spain and to a lesser extent Germany, want better control of the posted workers status, the UK and the eastern countries are firmly opposed to it.


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