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Undo Laval And Viking Judgements In EU Reforms

Monday, June 2, 2014

GMB Call On Labour Party To Include Fair Movement Terms In List Of EU Reforms That It Seeks

Successive European Court judgments (Laval & Viking cases) have allowed unscrupulous employers to exploit workers by undercutting wages and conditions in a race to the bottom and these need to be undone says GMB.

GMB commented on the letter from Douglas Alexander MP, Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary, to David Cameron setting out five specific and achievable changes the next Labour government would seek to make Europe work better for Britain. See notes to editors for a copy of the letter.

Kathleen Walker Shaw GMB European Officer, said “Douglas Alexander is missing a crucial point in his letter regarding the reasons why what we were promised on free movement in the EU is turning into a serious problem. Whatever the vision was, what we have now is not it.

Successive European Court judgments (Laval & Viking cases) have ripped the heart out of a social Europe, allowing unscrupulous employers to exploit workers across the EU at will - undercutting wages and conditions in a race to the bottom.

Our members, and we believe the majority of people in the UK or the rest of the EU, did not sign up for this. Any political party that is serious about tackling the issues related to EU migration will make undoing the damaging effects of these judgments their number one priority for reform.

When are politicians going to acknowledge that migrant workers aren’t stealing our jobs – they are being actively recruited by employers who want to exploit cheap labour, and, as things stand, they are allowed to get away with it.

We want a Labour Government to start again with all the other EU Governments to revise the Posting of Workers Directive. They must build in the rights that we have been arguing should have been legally established from the beginning - that the rate for the job, not the minimum wage only, applies and collectively agreed terms and conditions are adhered to across the EU.

EU Governments had the chance to do this earlier this year, and ducked it.

If that principle is applied then free movement in the EU will manage itself on the basis that we are competing on quality, not exploitation of vulnerable workers. This was promised to workers in Europe in 1996 but was never delivered. Douglas Alexander urgently needs to put this at the top of his list for reforms.”


Contac:  Kathleen Walker Shaw, GMB European Officer 07841 181 549 or 00 32 2 230 56 75 or GMB press office 07921 289880/ 07974 251 823

Notes to editors

Copy of press release on Labour Party website

Labour challenges Cameron to come clean on EU reform

Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary, Douglas Alexander MP has written to David Cameron to challenge him to come clean with his EU reform plans. In his letter Mr Alexander sets out five specific and achievable changes the next Labour government would seek to make Europe work better for Britain. He challenges the PM to turn abstract principles for reform into similarly concrete proposals before the next European Council meeting.

Douglas Alexander’s letter:

Rt Hon David Cameron MP

Prime Minister

10 Downing Street


1 June 2014

Dear David,

It is now 16 months since your Bloomberg speech about the future of Europe where you described five key principles that you said should underpin the way Europe should change: competiveness, flexibility, power flowing back to nation states, accountability and fairness.

At the time, there was widespread agreement in the UK that, while abstract, these five principles were indeed important ideals. Since then, despite repeated requests from leading members of the British business community, from within your own party and from MPs from all sides, you have failed to set out your specific reform agenda for the EU.

The concern over your silence is widely held. Only this week, dozens of Conservative activists, MPs and senior figures from the grassroots of your party, called on you to urgently offer “clarity” on your European reform agenda which, they point out, you have conspicuously not done to date.

In last week’s elections, people expressed a desire and appetite for change. It is clear that the EU does now face a significant ‘reform moment’. Those elections demonstrated a growing lack of trust in politics which will only be reinforced by your failure to let the British people know how you intend to turn your abstract ideas into a real reform programme.

It is an effort to seize, rather than squander, this moment for reform that I am writing to you. It is high time you shared with the British people your proposals to change the EU. You have for instance, talked in general terms about major treaty changes which, as I am you are aware, will require the unanimous support of 27 other member states.

Labour has already set out clear and achievable reform objectives which are practical measures to help ensure that the EU works better for Britain.

These include five key reforms that could help to immediately improve the accountability, legitimacy and effectiveness of the EU as a whole on issues which are priorities for the British people such as immigration, jobs and sustained economic growth.

First, ensure that the EU is focused on promoting jobs and growth across Europe by appointing an EU Growth Commissioner to help the EU overcome the economic challenges so many of its citizens still face.

Second, help manage the impact of freedom of movement across the EU, in particular by extending transitional arrangements that dictate the period of time people from new EU member states have to wait before being able to travel freely to look for work here in the UK.

Third, take action to protect the integrity of the benefits system, by stopping benefits such as Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit being sent abroad to children not living here in the UK.

Fourth, review the EU budget to help secure further savings and efficiencies, including introducing a zero-based review on all EU agencies, whose number and total cost have grown significantly in recent years.

Fifth, give national parliaments a greater say in EU policy making by introducing a red-card mechanism to enable governments to come together to block unwanted legislation.

I urge you to now reflect on these practical, specific and achievable measures which go with, rather than against, the grain of debate about reform elsewhere among our EU partners.

If you have different and specific proposals, as well as a clear strategy to achieve them, I would urge you to now set them out and confirm the UK government will present them for discussion at the next EU council on the 26th June.

Alongside these vital reforms at an EU level, there is also more that can be done at a UK level to improve accountability and scrutiny of EU affairs. In the coming weeks the UK will have to appoint a new EU Commissioner. It is vital that our next Commissioner carries the UK Parliament’s confidence, and has cross-party domestic support to secure much needed reform, so we urge you to agree to give Parliament a chance to scrutinise your candidate before they are officially nominated.

It is undeniable that Europe has undergone an economic and financial crisis, but the priority now must be not to let this also become a crisis of political leadership.

Given the clear public interest in these matters I am taking the step of releasing this letter to the media.

Yours sincerely,

Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP

Shadow Foreign Secretary


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