RIGA - To fight inequality and in-work poverty, members of the European Parliament are calling for an adequate minimum wage and equal labor conditions for online platform workers in all European Union (EU) member states.
According to MEPs, that the principle that ‘work is the best remedy for poverty’ does not apply to low-wage sectors, and those working under precarious and atypical working conditions. MEPs therefore urge the European Commission and member states to include the prevention of in-work poverty in their overall goal to end poverty in the EU, Janis Krastins, the European Parliament's spokesman in Latvia, told LETA.
MEPs welcome 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. The directive should ensure that statutory minimum wages are, where applicable, always set above the poverty threshold, they stress.
They also make clear that 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.
The legislative framework on minimum working conditions must be enforced for all workers as another important element of the fight against in-work poverty, MEPs underline. This includes atypical or non-standard workers in the digital economy who often work in precarious conditions. These workers must also be covered by existing labor laws and social security provisions as well as being able to engage in collective bargaining, they add.
Transposing and implementing the Work-Life Balance Directive is key to fighting poverty and inequality, MEPs say. 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.
The EU legislature adopted adopted the text by 365 votes to 118 and 208 abstentions.
Krastins noted that according to Eurostat’s definition, individuals are at risk of in-work poverty when they work for over half the year and their yearly disposable income is below 60 percent of the national household median income level after social transfers.
Eurostat figures show that 9.4 percent of European workers were at risk of poverty in 2018. Low wages have not increased at the same rate as other types of wages in many member states, exacerbating income inequalities and in-work poverty and reducing the capacity of low-wage earners to cope with financial difficulties.