Social Europe consists of all sorts of acts and laws, small and great. I have talked a lot about problems in working life on several occasions. I know of personal experience the pressures and challenges that an individual can be confronted with in his or her work. This individual needs a defender. And it is this individual I want to support with all my actions. Sustainable economic growth in an individual Member State and in the whole Europe can only be built on the well being of an ordinary working man and woman.
I have been talking to several Finns about the importance of not exhausting one self at work. When discussing with people that have been unemployed already for years, I have concretely experienced the shame and depression that this situation can cause. I have understood the meaning for work as cornerstone for our society and democracy.
The Working Time Directive is one of the fundamental Directives that regulate the maximum working hours and minimum recreational time, but it is up to each and every Member State to guarantee this minimum protection to their workers by national legislation. However, the Directive itself cannot be noticed at your or my place of work. It needs to be transposed in the national legislation in order to make the regulations binding at level of individual work places and companies.
MEPs and representatives of the Council failed to agree to cap Europeans' working week at a maximum of 48 hours in May 2009. The Parliament and the Member States could not reach a compromise on three crucial points: the opt-out, on-call time and multiple contracts. At the moment the Commission is preparing a new proposal.
The S&D Group and the labour unions have demanded that the Posting of Workers Directive must be renewed. This is because the initial purpose of the Directive to guarantee the equal rights to all workers is not fulfilled anymore. A minimum directive has turned into a maximum Directive. However, the recast will require a lot of work and shall be a result of long negotiations.
It is also clear that the posted workers must be treated in equal terms with the domestic ones and the Directive cannot prohibit providing the posted worker more favourable terms. In September 2009 president Barroso promised the European Parliament that the Commission will take action in this matter once the new college has been appointed.