An employee of a bakery holds a loaf of bread on March 23, 2020 in Rome.
(TIZIANA FABI / AFP)
The European Parliament has voted in favor of legislation that aims to guarantee adequate minimum wages for workers across the 27-nation bloc and strengthen their collective bargaining powers.
Lawmakers in Strasbourg on Wednesday debated a deal that was negotiated with European Union member states in June. In voting, 505 members of Parliament were in favor, while 92 votes were against and there were 44 abstentions.
Agnes Jongerius, a lawmaker from the Socialists and Democrats group and co-rapporteur of the directive, welcomed the adoption of the bill, saying that it "sets the standards for what an adequate minimum wage should look like", The Associated Press reported.
AP noted data from the EU that showed across the bloc, the minimum wage varies, with the highest in Luxembourg, Ireland and Germany, and the lowest in Bulgaria, Latvia and Estonia
"Prices for groceries, energy bills and housing are exploding. People are really struggling to make ends meet. We have no time to waste, work must pay again," said Jongerius.
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The directive will now be formally adopted, giving member states two years to implement it in national law.
The Euractiv news website quoted Mounir Satouri, a Green member of the European Parliament, or MEP, as saying that "thanks to this directive, 25 million workers will see their salary increase by 20 percent", adding that this would also erode some of the gender pay gaps in Europe.
AP noted data from the EU that showed across the bloc, the minimum wage varies, with the highest in Luxembourg, Ireland and Germany, and the lowest in Bulgaria, Latvia and Estonia.
The legislation will require member countries to guarantee "that their national minimum wages allow workers to lead a decent life, taking into account the cost of living and wider pay levels", the Parliament said in a statement, adding that it will apply to all EU workers who have an employment contract or employment relationship.
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It said the new law also promotes collective bargaining for pay in countries where fewer than 80 percent of workers are covered by the process.
Most member states will now have to find ways to increase their collective bargaining coverage, which means strengthening trade unions, said Euractiv.
Hungarian socialist MEP Klara Dobrev said it is the "end of an era" in Europe.
"For decades, European countries have competed among themselves where workers are cheaper, where they are vulnerable, and that was a so-called advantage," Dobrev told Euronews.
"And this is the end of an era when competitiveness is measured by a cheap and vulnerable labor force."