European & International News

Socialists & Democrats set equal pay as priority in new 10-point social strategy for the EU

[Brussels, 22 September 2011] The Group of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament yesterday published a social policy strategy for Europe, which puts equality between women and men as a high priority, including through setting ’economic freedom’ for all as the first of the 10 key points and returning again to the gender pay gap in the 10th point. Read their press release below.

PROGRESSIVES SET OUT 10-POINT SOCIAL STRATEGY FOR EU

The European Parliament’s main progressive group today adopted an ambitious, ten-point social policy strategy for Europe aimed at improving people’s quality of life.

The group rejected the notion that social policy cuts are an inevitable result of the crisis, condemning them instead as "a deliberate political choice by the right-wing majorities that currently dominate all European institutions."

Describing social cuts as "morally shameful, penalising wage-earners and the vulnerable for the sins of the bankers", the S&D Group’s position paper warns of lasting damage to prospects of further European integration and says they will "boost the electoral potential of nationalist, populist and anti-EU parties."

The document, drafted by Group vice-presidents Stephen Hughes and Rovana Plumb, and available for free download at www.socialistsanddemocrats.eu, (click here for direct link) calls on Europe to take a new path by implementing "an ambitious social strategy to secure strong social rights for all and at last to achieve real gender equality."

The ten key points are:

1. Economic freedom must be matched by respect for advanced labour laws, including equal pay and full trade union rights;

2. Workers must be protected against excessive working time;

3. Legal workers from outside the EU should have the same rights as EU citizens;

4. Health and safety rules must be fully respected and improved where possible;

5. EU measures to eradicate poverty are needed, along with action on social exclusion and lack of access to education;

6. Completing the single market must include strengthening its social dimension, making the market not just a goal in itself but a way of improving people’s quality of life;

7. Restructuring of industries, whilst often unavoidable, must be accompanied by EU rules and policies to ensure that measures are socially decent;

8. Despite progress on equality and non-discrimination, more needs to be done in a range of areas;

9. The EU should draw up proposals for sustainable and fair future pension provision to avoid making people work longer or cut pensions; and

10. The gender pay gap – as much as 25 per cent in some countries – is a core problem to be addressed in a programme of gender equality actions.

Said Mr Hughes and Ms Plumb in a joint statement: "For millions of citizens, the crisis means unemployment and austerity. The cure imposed by conservative governments to cut debt and deficits has led to wage cuts, reduction of purchasing power and underinvestment in health, education and social services, leading to a surge in inequality.

"The social fabric of Europe is under threat. That is why we urgently need action. We believe that our ten-point strategy is a sound basis on which the European Commission should now come forward with proposals for defending people’s social rights and securing social progress, if we want the European social model to remain a reference at global level, as the leader in promoting social justice."

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