Subcontracting Chains and Labour Intermediaries: EFFAT calls for EU binding initiative

Brussels 31 May 2023: On occasion of the EFFAT conference Mobile and Migrant Workers: What’s the Road Ahead for their protection in Europe? EFFAT reiterates its call for a new inclusive EU vision on labour mobility and migration and calls for a EU binding initiative on labour intermediaries and fair working conditions across subcontracting chains. This proposal builds on EFFAT demands on labour mobility and migration and aims at:

  • Ensuring real equal treatment across subcontracting chains
  • Regulating the role of all labour intermediaries and addressing the shortcomings of the TAW Directive
  • Increasing the frequency and bolstering the effectiveness of labour inspections across the EU
  • Ensuring decent housing for all mobile and migrant workers

EFFAT sectors significantly depend on the work of millions of mobile and migrant workers in Europe. They are the backbone of a thriving European agriculture, a flourishing food processing industry, and a rampant hospitality sector. As many are domestic workers, they even allow millions of working people to enjoy improved work-life balance and come back to a clean house.

Yet, and despite their essential role in society, many of them are subject to evident discrimination in the labour market and even labour exploitation. Unregulated labour intermediaries, abusive subcontracting and lack of inspections are behind some of the major hardships for migrant workers, with many of them unable to report any violation of their rights without risking retaliation or deportation.

Cristopher Warnakulasuriya, a Sri-Lankan migrant worker in the meat sector in Italy said: I am doing the same job in the same workplace as direct employees, but the level of protection  is incomparable. Collective bargaining dumping is commonplace in my sector where subcontracting is normalising exploitation.

El Abass Echmouti, a Maroccan farm worker in the agriculture sector in Spain said: It is inexplicable: Most of the employers carry out their production without any direct workforce. Intermediaries usually recruit the workers. Most of them pay a commission to ensure that they will be called to work. This contractual instability is killing any long-term plan for my life.

Kristjan Bragason, EFFAT Secretary General, said:  The stories of these migrant workers are unacceptable. EFFAT reiterates its call for a truly inclusive vision on labour mobility and migration. Existing loopholes of the EU social acquis must be closed to grant full inclusion and equal treatment to all migrant and mobile workers in Europe. We have concrete proposals on how to go about it. EFFAT will work in view of the EU Election 2024 to make sure they’re heard.

The event took place in the presence of the Commission for Labour and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit, invested MEPs, affiliates and migrant workers.


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