October 4, 2018 / 12:53 PM / 2 months ago

Hungary, Poland challenge tighter EU labour rules in court

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary and Poland said on Thursday they have gone to the European Court of Justice to challenge tighter European Union rules on the employment of workers from low-pay EU states.

The issue of so-called “posted” workers has divided poor east and rich west EU states for years, with France leading efforts to tighten rules while Poland and Hungary have sought to block reforms.

A new EU directive, announced in July, would limit the right of citizens from poorer member states to work in richer ones on a low salary.

That reform “does not serve the protection of posted workers but in fact ... is a tool for protectionism,” the Hungarian government said in statement on Thursday, adding that it had gone to the European Court of Justice to get the directive annulled.

Poland said that it had also challenged the reform in the ECJ.

“Poland has submitted its own complaint regarding the posted workers directive on Oct. 3. We underline its protectionist character. The assumptions of the Hungarian complaint are similar,” Polish state-run news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Szymanski as saying.

France wants to overhaul the system which allows “posted” workers to be employed in other EU countries on contracts that need only guarantee the host country’s minimum wage, and allow taxes and social charges to be paid in a worker’s home nation.

“Posted” workers make up only 1 percent of the EU workforce, with many employed in haulage and construction.

France, however, has complained that central and eastern Europe gains an unfair advantage from the “social dumping” of cheap labour, arguing that posting low-paid workers hurts local jobs and erodes labour protections in higher-wage member states like France and Germany.

Hungary said on Thursday that the EU directive violated the freedom of provision of services set out in the bloc’s Treaty.

Reporting by Krisztina Than; Additional reporting by Agnieszka Barteczko editing by Larry King and Susan Fenton

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