Same Rights for Foreign Seasonal Workers and EU Citizens

Written by | Friday, January 31st, 2014

Rules for an EU-wide mechanism for foreign seasonal workers such as fruit-pickers who come to Europe for work should be in place as early as in February. The European Parliament is expected to adopt the first-ever European Union-wide rules on unskilled immigrants who come to Europe for work, in a plenary vote scheduled for next Wednesday (5 February).
In October 2013, MEPs led by Claude Moraes from the UK’s Labour Party reached an agreement with the Council of Ministers on changes to the 2010 European Commission’s proposal and this compromise was endorsed later a month later by the civil liberties committee. The new rules, which will require adoption by the Council in order to become law, provide for the first time an EU-wide mechanism for foreign seasonal workers, effectively giving them most of the rights that seasonal workers from EU countries enjoy.
The most controversial issue during the negotiations was the scope of the labour standards in the draft directive. Some EU member states objected to the Parliament’s bid for greater protections for seasonal workers arguing that the permit system would become cumbersome and national authorities would face additional costs. Other MEPs opposing the draft directive defended member states’ powers to set the maximum length of seasonal contracts, which the MEPs sought to cap to six months. The compromise now allows member states to define the limit at between five and nine months in a 12-month period. Foreign seasonal workers will now be treated equally to EU nationals in terms of pay, dismissal, working hours and holidays. They will also have access to social security and similar services, except public housing.

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