European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions
Together for decent work and fair pay from farm to fork

End Precarious Work! European trade unions call for equal treatment at work as first step


Europe needs equal treatment for all workers doing the same job at the same place, regardless of gender, origin, status or work contract.

This principle, outlined and argued in the Legal Opinion “Precarious Work and European Union Law” by the Swedish legal firm Öberg & Associés, needs to be taken into account in all initiatives undertaken by the European Union in the field of social and labour legislation, such as the European Pillar of Social Rights, the revision of the Posting of Workers Directive, the Mobility Package, REFIT, etc.

This was the major conclusion of the final conference of the joint project “Europe: End Precarious Work Now! – Decent Work and Equal Treatment for All” of EFFAT and the European Trade Union Federations (ETUFs) EFBWW, EPSU, ETF, IndustriAll-Europe, UNI Europa in cooperation with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) held in Brussels on 13 and 14 April 2016, co-financed by the European Commission.

For many years, the ETUFs and the ETUC have been fighting against the growing precarisation of work. With this multi-sectoral project, the trade unions, building on the work undertaken so far, want to jointly elaborate a common strategy for decent work and equal treatment for all.

In the EU, precarious work means a low level of certainty over job safety, poor individual control over work, and/or little opportunity for training and career progression. A job can be precarious because the worker is unable to enforce employment rights, social insurance protection is absent, or health and safety is at risk. But it can also mean that the job does not provide enough income to live decently, wages are not paid regularly or not paid at all.

Such conditions were at the core of 4 workers testimonies which shined a light on their every day in a precarious job:

Cristina, from the Spanish catering sector said: “At first I was hired as waitress, then I wasn’t sure about my tasks anymore, and ended up doing absolutely everything, and also non-paid extra work”.

Catherine, in the Belgian cleaning sector since the early 90s, still doesn’t consider her contract and her pay as providing decent working and living conditions and said: “Now subcontractors in the cleaning industry just look for the cheapest labour possible, a situation that clearly falls back on my working and living conditions.”

Andrew, in the Danish cleaning sector highlighted that for long time his contract had only partially reflected his real working hours and said: “All the rest was undeclared work under a take it or leave it condition”.

Finally Tom, a worker under zero hours contract in the UK fast food sector, said: “I have a kid and no clue of what my salary at the end of the month will be”; and added: “I am fed up of being treated like a machine rather than a human being.”

About 100 people, amongst whom policy makers, academics, legal experts and trade unionists, turned out at the conference to demand an end to precarious work and to ask the European Union to put in place a legal framework to ensure equal treatment for all workers.

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EFFAT is the European Federation of Food, Agriculture and Tourism Trade Unions. As a European Trade Union Federation representing 120 national trade unions from 35 European countries, EFFAT defends the interests of more than 22 million workers towards the European Institutions, European employers’ associations and transnational companies. EFFAT is a member of the ETUC and the European regional organisation of the IUF.