In our article on conditions in engineering construction (Solidarity 3-166) it was not unambiguously clear that employers are not using the Posted Workers Directive as such to attack workers. Rather they have used loopholes in the Posted Workers Directive created by recent European Court of Justice rulings. (We said the Directive had been “amended” by the court).
Those rulings — to the surprise of the unions — have established an interpretation of the PWD as guaranteeing posted workers only those terms and conditions which are established by law in the country they are posted to. Because industrial agreements in Britain have no legally-binding status, the PWD does not guaranteed posted workers coverage by those agreements.
The other thing established by the ECJ rulings is that if unions take action to demand “levelling up” of posted workers to locally-negotiated standards then they may open themselves up to legal action for “restraint of trade”.
“Levelling up” of posted workers is one issue now being grappled with by the unions in construction engineering. Another is underemployment. A scheduled official strike action over redundancies by 160 members employed by Alstom due on 12 February at the Staythorpe power station construction site in Nottinghamshire was called off. The GMB say Alstom are now sticking to nationally agreed procedures.