January 21, 2007 19:01 ET

EU labour law reform is recipe for jobs and pay disaster- says Amicus

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 19, 2007) -

Embargoed until 00.01 22nd January 2007

Amicus, Britain's biggest private sector union today warned the government not to use an EU Green paper to champion the introduction of weaker employment laws across the European Union.

Amicus believes the consultation paper entitled 'Modernising Labour Law to Meet The Challenges of The 21st Century', is designed to foist UK style labour laws on other EU states which would cause job losses and wage reductions across the whole continent.

The centre piece of the paper is the principal of "Flexicurity". It suggests that by reducing job protections like unfair dismissal laws and notice periods and by introducing more casual contracts employment growth would be stimulated. It goes on to say that job security would be maintained through the scarcity of Labour that would result from that employment growth.

Amicus points to the manufacturing employment situation in the UK and falling real incomes as evidence that this approach is flawed.
"10,000 jobs have been lost every month in manufacturing since 1997 and employment in the sector is likely to dip below three million for the first time next month.

"The UK has lost out to foreign competition to a greater extent than Germany and France because of Britain's weak labour laws. Whilst employment levels are higher in the UK than in France and Germany average wage levels are lower here. Average wages has fallen below inflation in Britain now for the first time in over a decade.

"Well paid, full manufacturing employment is being replaced by low paid part time jobs," said Derek Simpson, Amicus General Secretary.

Amicus fears that the consultation will focus on a desirable wider participation in the labour market, particularly for women and migrant workers, whilst ignoring the implication for living standards for all working people.

Derek Simpson said "The Green Paper hides behind the language of equality to propose measures to force exploitation and insecurity on to every worker in Europe."

"Well paid secure jobs can only be protected by stronger employment laws than we currently enjoy in the UK. We will be asking ministers to clarify how their response to the Green Paper will be designed to protect the living standards of British workers.

Note to editors.

10 things for workers to worry about from the Green Paper

1. Temporary Agency Workers Directive buried for good

2. No end to the long hours culture in UK as opt out of working time directive remains

3. Undermining of national collective agreements

4. The price of higher social security benefits will be the loss of employment rights

5. Having to work longer before being able to claim unfair dismissal

6. Reduced standards for health & safety rights

7. Casualisation of labour leading to less security and lower wages

8. Weakening of permanent employment contracts

9. Potential condemnation of vulnerable workers to low paid short term employment

10. Weakening collective trade union rights

Contact Information

  • Amicus Press Office
    Catherine Bithell
    07958 473 224
    Amicus Press Office
    Ciaran Naidoo
    07768 931 315