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EU: European trade unions decry a European Commission proposal that would weaken the right to strike

Through . Published on 20 September 2022 à 14h31 - Update on 20 September 2022 à 14h31

On 19 September, the European Commission presented a series of instruments (the SMEI, the Single Market Emergency Instrument) aimed at preserving “the free movement of goods, people in adverse times.” The texts aim to improve government coordination in response to the pandemic, which had led to businesses and citizens suffering “from entry restrictions, supply disruptions and a lack of predictability of rules which fragmented the Single Market,” the European Commission explained. Thus, the EU Commission proposal includes the potential use of emergency measures in such situations, including for example the obligation to accept certain priority orders or indeed recommendations to the Member States to increase production or service delivery capacities. However, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) addressed a letter dated 06 September to the European Commission expressing concern that strike action would fall into the category of an “exceptional, unexpected and sudden event for the purposes of the SMEI” which, according to the text, would justify the introduction of emergency measures that could weaken this right to strike. While the final text assures that the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights will be respected with regard to the right to collective bargaining and trade union action, the ETUC regrets that this is mentioned in the non-binding preamble rather than in the articles of the proposal. “Trade unions work on the basis of law, not political promises and we will not accept safeguards for the right to strike being weakened in EU law,” said ETUC Confederal Secretary Isabelle Schömann.

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