This code of conduct for fair and transparent employment relationships is in response to a report of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) (European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 2015, « Severe labour exploitation: workers moving within or into the European Union ») which highlights shocking exploitation and abuse of workers moving within and into the EU. These tools aim to ensure the human dignity of workers moving to another country in the hope of making a decent living, in return for their hard work.
The FRA report highlights cases of severely exploited workers, both EU citizens and third-country nationals, across a number of sectors including agriculture, hotel & catering, food sector, construction and manufacturing. The FRA report shows that migrant workers are more vulnerable to being manipulated by employers because they are unaware of their rights and what to expect in their destination country before they sign up for the job. Many migrant workers are hired through labour supply agents, some of which are legitimate employment agencies, but there are also unscrupulous “gangmasters” and criminal operations exploiting workers. Whilst illegal and unscrupulous outfits exploiting workers are allowed to operate with impunity, they undermine and create unfair competition for companies who abide by good labour and employment practices and pay decent wages. The EU was not established to promote exploitation over good employment practices and firm action needs to be taken.