EU involvement in minimum wage rejected

in News · 31-01-2020 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Representatives of labour and employers in Portugal have rejected the idea of the European Commission being involved in setting the minimum salary.

The position of unions and representative comes following the European Commission’s announcement that it was launching a phase of consultations with social partners on ensuring that all workers in the EU are paid fairly.
“This initiative is open to manifest criticism and thus strong opposition,” António Saraiva, the president of CIP, Portugal’s leading business confederation, told Lusa. “We are facing a very worrying and possibly dangerous initiative that, for the first time, [means that] the Commission intends to act directly on the issue of wages, which, from our perspective, must remain in the national competence of states.”
He pointed out that most countries in the EU have legislation on minimum pay and argued that it is “crucial to take into account and respect the diversity of existing labour relations systems in the different member states, as well as their methods of setting pay.”
He points out that the European Commission, “within the social policies established by the treaty on the functioning of the European Union, does not have the power to introduce wage instruments, and this would interfere significantly in member states’ systems of setting pay.”
The president of the Confederation of Trade and Services of Portugal (CCP), João Vieira Lopes, also told Lusa that “Portugal has an established system of consultations around increases in the minimum salary” and so “the intervention of the European Commission is not justified”.

In Portugal, the national minimum salary, which this year is 635 (paid 14 times a year rather than 12) is set by the government, after consulting the social partners.
The opposition to the commission’s initiative is also shared by the Confederation of Tourism of Portugal (CTP), headed by Francisco Calheiros, who in written statements to Lusa states that “there are much more important issues in Europe to discuss at this time” and that any changes to pay “must respect the scope of negotiation, in particular, collective bargaining.”
The CGTP’s secretary-general, Arménio Carlos, argued that “the European Commission’s proposal clearly aims to assume a logic of interference in what is the responsibility of each member state, which is to define collective hiring policies and at the same time salary increases.
“We are facing a trap because there is no European minimum salary,” he went on. “What there is, is a discussion of criteria that, if applied, would be detrimental to Portuguese workers.”
The head of the UGT, Carlos Silva, by contrast expressed his “support for this Commission proposal” for “ensuring the existence of a minimum salary in all member states, but leaving the various governments and social partners the possibility of determining how to fix and update the value of the minimum salary, in line with the economic, business and social reality of each country.”
The European Commission headed by Ursula von der Leyen has stated its goal of “building a strong social Europe”, with proposals for action at EU level that it proposes to set in motion in the coming months. One of the first actions was the launch of the first phase of consultations on the issue of minimum pay in the EU, while making clear that the idea is not to standardise the minimum salary in Europe.
“There will not be a universal minimum salary,” the commission announcement states. “Any potential proposal will reflect national traditions, whether at collective agreements or in terms of legal provisions.”
The objective is, rather, “to ensure that all systems are adequate, have sufficient coverage, include in-depth consultations with the social partners and have an appropriate upgrade mechanism.”


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