British workers’ anger is understandable


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A number of unofficial strikes have broken out in Great Britain. The strikes started on an oil refinery in North Lincolnshire last week and they are now spreading rapidly over the country. The reason is that the employer has started making use of the principles laid down by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the Laval and Viking cases, principles based on wage competition. The employer wants to press down wage costs by replacing British workers by posted Italian and Portuguese workers, who have to work on worse conditions.
We clearly reject discrimination against foreign workers. We demand equal treatment no matter the nationality, Wanja Lundby-Wedin says, and states that this issue will be discussed at the Steering Committee meeting of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) on 5 February.

The course of events in Great Britain shows that the consequences of the decision in the Laval case now are spreading. The LO and the European trade union movement have feared, since the Laval case, that wage competition between workers will create tension in Europe. What now happens in Great Britain is an immediate consequence of the decisions by the European Court of Justice, Wanja Lundby-Wedin says.

The ECJ rulings in the Laval, Rüffert, Luxembourg and Viking cases have disturbed the balance between the economic and social dimensions of the EU. Therefore, the LO has required a revision of the Directive on the Posting of Workers. The aim is to restore the possibilities of member states of regulating their national labour markets independently, in order to obtain equal treatment of resident and foreign workforces and to stop wage competition.

The British Trades Union Congress now demands a revision of the Directive on the Posting of Workers. Hopefully, also the British government will perceive the seriousness of the ECJ rulings. Wage competition brings about great anger and fury. Governments of the European countries and the President of the European Commission can no longer ignore the demand for a revision of the Posting Directive, Wanja Lundby-Wedin says.