Brussels Branch AGM – Wednesday 11th July, 18:30

GMB Brussels Branch will be holding its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 11th July at 18:30. We will be planning our campaigns and activities for the year ahead, so if you would like to be involved, even in a small way, or just feed in your input, please do come along. There will also be elections for Branch officer positions, both existing positions and new ones.

If you’re a member and you haven’t had a communication from us about the AGM, please get in touch with us as soon as possible.

EP news: GMB calls the European Parliament to action on dismissal of MEPs’ staff

The GMB Trade Union, representing over 620,000 members including its Brussels Branch, has called upon its allies in the European Parliament to campaign for MEPs’ Assistants to be given greater security and stronger rights at work, in particular on current rules which allow unfair dismissal of staff.

Branch secretary Kieron Merrett speaks at GMB Congress, which adopted the motion as the union's position

A motion proposed by members of the GMB Brussels Branch on the posted workers legislation was formally adopted by the GMB at its Congress in Brighton. This followed approval at Regional level earlier this year.

Moving the motion at Congress, Branch Secretary Kieron Merrett said, “Members of the European Parliament can be proud of their record in passing important employment laws at European level. So it is a shame that their own staff do not enjoy the same level of protections.”

MEPs’ Assistants are employees of the European Parliament but in a special category of staff. They are subject to a clause in their staff regulations which allows them to be dismissed at any time, with no evidence, and no possibility to challenge the employer’s decision. No compensation is given to staff dismissed in this way. This situation would of course be impossible if MEPs’ staff were covered by national employment laws.

MEPs have in the past contended that this bizarre situation is necessary because “that trust is the basis of the working relationship between the Member and his accredited parliamentary assistant.” However, this situation is not found in the other Parliaments of Europe where staff are enjoy national employment protections.

Amendments to the staff regulations covering Assistants in the European Parliament have recently been discussed by MEPs on the Parliament’s JURI committee. MEPs on the committee have voted to create a new “conciliation procedure which shall apply before the contract of an accredited parliamentary assistant is terminated.” Whilst this is a positive first step, the exact form the procedure may take will subsequently be discussed and defined in the “Implementing Measures” for these regulations. GMB Brussels Branch will be working to ensure that Assistants are given the best possible protection.


The GMB’s resolution in full:

173. UNFAIR DISMISSAL OF MEPS’ STAFF

This Congress:

  • is concerned that, since the introduction of the „Assistants‟ Statute‟ in 2009, the staff of Members of the European Parliament have been subject to a rule which allows them to be dismissed at any time, subject only to a requirement for the MEP to state a reason for the dismissal, with no suspension, no investigation, no fair hearing, no right of appeal and no compensation;
  • is concerned that, whilst the majority of MEPs are exemplary employers, some have used this rule as a licence to treat their staff with contempt;
  • notes that it can be difficult for MEPs‟ Assistants and for the GMB, as the only Trade Union representing them, to enforce their contractual rights when they can be threatened with dismissal so easily;
  • recognises that MEPs‟ Assistants, many of whom are GMB members, provide vital support to MEPs and the European Parliament which should be recognised and valued;
  • believes that the European Parliament has been the source of a great deal of positive and important legislation on employment rights, but that in order to have a truly credible voice on employment rights it must set an example to employers across Europe; and
  • therefore calls on the GMB’s allies in the European Parliament to be at the forefront of efforts to reform the Assistants‟ Statute and to give their staff greater security and stronger rights at work.

B59 BRUSSELS BRANCH
Southern Region

Brussels news: GMB will fight for a better offer for posted workers

The GMB Trade Union, representing over 620,000 members including its Brussels Branch, has called upon its allies in the European Parliament to campaign for stricter enforcement of the law on ‘posted workers,’ which include many GMB Brussels Branch members.

Branch secretary Kieron Merrett speaks at GMB Congress, which adopted the motion as the union's position

A motion proposed by members of the GMB Brussels Branch on the posted workers legislation was formally adopted by the GMB at its Congress in Brighton. This followed approval at Regional level earlier this year.

Moving the motion at Congress, Branch Secretary Kieron Merrett said that branch members had been “let down by the law.” He said, “Far too many employers are unscrupulous and don’t follow the law. Our members have found at the worst possible time that they aren’t properly covered for healthcare, for example, or wrongly told that they weren’t entitled to benefits that they were entitled to under the law.”

The European Commission has recently proposed legislation to tighten up the enforcement of the posted workers rules. However, Trade Union groups have criticised the legislation, deploring the “minimalistic approach” taken by the Commission. GMB Brussels Branch Secretary Kieron Merrett told GMB Congress the proposal was “nowhere near enough” to protect GMB Brussels Branch members and that the Commission had “prioritised the freedoms of international companies over the rights of vulnerable workers.”

Although GMB is a UK-based Trade Union, the membership of GMB Brussels Branch includes many workers who are from the UK or working for UK employers in the Brussels area. A significant number of these are ‘posted workers,’ or workers who have been sent from the UK to work temporarily in Belgium. They are directly affected by posted workers legislation, which (if properly enforced) ensures that any posted worker in Belgium is entitled to the same legal minimum conditions as a normal Belgian worker on pay, holiday, working time, health and safety, and other conditions.

Many UK employers who have employees in Belgium – in both the public and private sectors – wrongly believe they are not covered by Belgian employment law and fail to uphold their workers’ basic employment rights. In fact, any worker in Belgium, ‘posted’ or not, is subject to Belgian employment rules, regardless of the place of origin of their employer.

However, GMB Brussels Branch has also found that many workers in Brussels believe they are ‘posted workers,’ but in fact the law has not properly been followed by their employers. This can result in a dangerous situation in which workers are not properly covered for healthcare or other benefits or have not paid taxes to the correct authorities.


The GMB’s resolution in full:

172. POSTED WORKERS DIRECTIVE AND GMB MEMBERS

This Congress:

  • believes that the Single Market and freedom of movement in the European Union are not ends in themselves, but means to improving the lives of people;
  • is concerned that the current EU Posted Workers Directive fails to adequately guarantee equal treatment in working conditions for posted workers coming to the UK from other EU countries, without which local workers are subject to unfair wage competition which undermines established conditions and collective agreements;
  • believes that, too often, posted workers across Europe suffer under existing employment legislation, as they are left vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers who fail to fulfil their obligations;
  • notes that many GMB members in Brussels are posted workers from the UK, and that in many cases they can lack even the most basic protections, such as healthcare cover, due to the failure of their employers to recognise their obligations under the law; and
  • therefore calls upon the GMB’s allies in the European Parliament to take into account the situation of GMB members, both in the UK and in Brussels, who are let down by the current Directive, and to campaign for stricter enforcement of equal treatment in working conditions for all cross-border workers in the European Union, when the legislation on Posted Workers is revised this year.

B59 BRUSSELS BRANCH
Southern Region