European health and safety strategy put on ice

dummy5The European Commission has suspended all progress on its already overdue workplace health and safety strategy. A 2 October Commission communication on its REFIT deregulatory policy said all health and safety at work measures currently under discussion will be shelved until a new Commission takes office in 2014.

According to ETUI, the research arm of Europe’s trade union confederation ETUC, “these are big issues that affect the lives and health of millions of workers in Europe, like bringing in a directive on musculoskeletal disorders and improving EU laws to prevent work-induced cancers. The current Commission has also pressed the pause button on a draft directive to protect workers against tobacco smoke. It will be doing nothing to address trade union and employers’ organisations’ demands to implement the European Agreement on occupational health and safety in the hairdressing sector.” The REFIT programme also has an action plan for 2013 and 2014 to ‘simplify’ EU social laws, “at the risk of rolling back minimum fundamental rights for many workers in Europe”, said ETUI.

The Commission policy announcement was savaged by the ETUC which in a press release said it was “appalled at the current lack of initiatives to establish or strengthen a level playing field for workers’ protection.” ETUC general secretary Bernadette Segol said: “The internal market is only acceptable if implemented with strong social rules. The Commission’s REFIT programme is blocking all progress in that direction. We need social rights across the board for all EU workers. The social dimension of the EU with its indicators is not meeting this objective.”


ETUI news release  * EU Commission: Communication “Regulatory fitness and performance (REFIT): results and next steps”, 2 October 2013 * UniEuropa news release.

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