Seasonal workers are not second-class employees. We cannot allow workers coming from different member states, or also those who come from third countries and work in the EU, to be played against each other by means of circumventing rules. These workers have the same rights as long-term local workers, because the single market has to have fair rules that apply to everyone.
Shortcomings in health and safety at work
The Corona pandemic has also revealed shortcomings, especially when seasonal workers are employed in agriculture and also for workers in the meat industry. Shortcomings in working conditions and sometimes precarious living conditions were revealed. The workers affected were exposed to considerable health risks in some cases. In Germany these workers come mainly from central and south-eastern Europe.
Because the violations were sometimes serious and such conditions can be found in several EU countries, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Hubertus Heil, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit, and the European Parliament raised the issue of the protection of seasonal workers at European level.
We will oppose those who construe freedom of movement to mean exploitation. We cannot tolerate a situation, in the middle of the EU, in which workers from different countries are accorded different rights. Just as there are no second-class citizens, there are no second-class workers.
Enforcing rules and monitoring compliance
The Federal Labour Minister and his EU counterparts therefore actively addressed the question of how to improve enforcement of good working conditions for seasonal and other mobile workers in practice, while also reducing social inequality, preventing wage dumping and strengthening social protections.
Learn more about the Council Conclusions here.