Latest news

GMB Brussels Get-Together – Tuesday 24th March

GMB Brussels are having an informal get-together on Tuesday 24th March from 19:30 onwards at Ralph’s Bar, Place Luxembourg.

As well as discussing our plans for the future, we also hope to top the night off with a GMB-themed quiz! So come along, have a few drinks and enjoy a relaxed evening with fellow members.

See you there!

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

GMB supports Brussels members at national and regional level

The GMB’s Southern Region delegation to Congress, which will be held in June 2012, will support two motions submitted by Brussels Branch on posted workers and MEP Assistants.

The delegation decided at its meeting on Friday that it would support the motions. This follows an earlier decision by the GMB’s Central Executive Committee to support the motions, and means that the Branch is well on its way to receiving national endorsement for its motions at Congress.

The first motion from Brussels Branch highlights the situation of many GMB members in Brussels, who are posted workers (or are led to believe they are posted workers) but often find that their basic rights are not upheld. The GMB Brussels Branch has recently supported a number of members whose rights under Belgian and European law were not protected.

The second motion from the Branch concerns the situation of MEPs’ Assistants in the European Parliament. Current staff regulations mean that Assistants, who are not covered by any national employment law, can be dismissed without justification, without a fair hearing and without compensation – a situation that is not considered reasonable or decent in any other workplace.

The Branch’s delegate to GMB Congress, Kieron Merrett, will move the motions at Congress in Brighton (UK) in June.

EP news: MEP Assistants and Stagiaires, have your say!

The GMB Assistants and Stagiaires Survey can be filled in online, in English, French, German and Spanish

We want to hear your views on your work in the European Parliament! That means your conditions, your issues, what you like and what you dislike, and anything else you want to tell us – please let us know by filling in our survey.

The survey will take you just 5 minutes to complete and is completely anonymous. The survey is available in English, French, German and Spanish. It is open to all MEP Assistants and Stagiaires working in Brussels or Strasbourg.

Check your Parliamentary inbox for an email containing the link to the survey.

Your feedback will help us put together a snapshot of the working conditions of MEP Assistants and Stagiaires across the European Parliament – and it will help us campaign on the issues that matter to you.

EP news: GMB meets with Parliament on dismissals

GMB Brussels Branch representatives have held urgent meetings with Parliamentary authorities on the issue of unfair and irregular dismissal of MEPs’ Assistants, which is thought to be a serious problem in the institution.

Whilst many MEPs are exemplary employers, GMB Brussels Branch is concerned that an administrative ‘gap’ has enabled a number of MEPs to abuse the rules on terminating an Assistant’s contract.

Working in tandem with representatives of the Assistants’ Committee, officers of the Brussels Branch of the GMB Trade Union have met with officials from both DG Personnel and the Legal Service of the Parliament. GMB aims to ascertain what more can be done to ensue that the Parliament protects the rights of assistants, whether through better enforcement of the existing rules or by proposing changes to the procedures.

The Branch believes that Assistants currently fall into an administrative ‘gap,’ as under current working practices the Parliament is not accustomed to helping an Assistant where there is a case of conflict with an MEP. This results in an unusual situation, in which the burden of proof is on the employee, rather than the employer, in any case of dismissal.

Brussels news: Workers should be aware of their rights under Belgian law

The GMB Brussels Branch has recently represented and advised a number of members who have had difficulties with their rights under Belgian employment law.

Many UK employers, as well as their workers based in Brussels, believe that their employment relationship is governed by UK law. However, employment actually carried out in Belgium is primarily subject to Belgian law, regardless of the location of the employer or where tax and social security is paid.

Whilst it is true that certain workers have ‘posted worker’ status, this is more restricted than many workers realise (for example, it cannot apply to any employment lasting longer than two years). In any case, even ‘posted’ workers enjoy the same basic rights as Belgians in a number of areas under Belgian law – including, for example, minimum pay and paid holidays.

Workers who are based in Brussels should contact their Union representatives if they are unsure of their rights.

New website launched – more languages coming soon

The new GMB Brussels Branch website (English version)

The new GMB Brussels Branch website (English version)

GMB Brussels Branch has today launched its new website.

The new website provides new ways for members to learn about the Branch, with up-to-date branch news, a calendar of events and information on what the Branch doeshow to join and how to get in touch.

The website currently provides information in English, with German, French, Spanish and Italian versions coming soon.

We would love to hear what you think! Please get in touch with us with any feedback or suggestions you have.