MEPs insist minimum wage can tackle in-work poverty

Economic interests should not be allowed to override social protection, they say

Photo: EP Ӧzlem Demirel.

During the plenary session in Brussels, MEPs adopted measures to combat inequality and tackle the growing problem of in-work poverty, calling for a minimum wage, equal labour conditions for platform workers and a better work-life balance.

They said that for jobs in low-wage sectors and in precarious and atypical working conditions the principle ‘work is the best remedy for poverty’ does not apply.

They asked the Commission and EU countries to include the prevention of in-work poverty in their overall goal to end poverty in the EU.

Lawmakers welcomed the Commission’s proposal for an EU directive on adequate minimum wages, describing it as an important step to ensure that everyone can earn a living from their work and participate in society.

They say the legislation should ensure that statutory minimum wages are, where applicable, always set above the poverty threshold.

Employers should not deduct the costs for carrying out work, such as accommodation, the requisite clothing, tools, personal protection and other equipment, from minimum wages, MEPs asserted.

Rapporteur on the file Ӧzlem Demirel (GUE/NGL, DE) pointed out that the EU is one of the wealthiest regions in the world. However, 95 million Europeans live at risk of poverty, she said voicing the need for urgent action to ensure a life free from poverty for all.

Across Europe, we need social minimum standards and strong social security systems and we need wages and income that allow for a decent living, the rapporteur said urging that economic interests should not be allowed to override social protection.

As MEPs stated, the legislative framework on minimum working conditions must be enforced for all workers as another important element of the fight against in-work poverty. Atypical or non-standard workers in the digital economy who often work in precarious conditions should be included and these workers must also be covered by existing labour laws and social security provisions as well as being able to engage in collective bargaining.

Applying the Work-Life Balance Directive is key to fighting poverty and inequality, they underlined adding that given that women are more at risk of poverty and social exclusion than men, tackling the gender pay gap and guaranteeing access to affordable and quality childcare are important steps in this respect.

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