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Friday, 25 November 2011

Brussels Commentary Employment committee 23rd - 24th Nov 2011

Brussels Commentary     Employment committee           23rd - 24th Nov  2011

Tuesday  Health and Safety at Work was up for discussion again and I found myself speaking to this as soon as I sat down, the flight only getting here in time. Video should be on my web site soon, but the response is not worth your time.

A Statute for European Cooperative Societies was debated, where enterprises just like our own "Co-op" and farmers' cooperatives are envisaged. It turns out that there are 160,000 of these independently set up and already operating across Europe. The EU has managed to promote17  more Co-ops employing 32 people, costing you plenty.

Wednesday  Votes on the Co-ops were passed, naturally. Also adopted was the Mid-Term review of Health & Safety at Work, all 240 amendments of it! Not that we voted 240 times for when there is that weight of amendments the rapporteur gets together with the “shadow rapporteurs”, and amendment submitters, to roll lots of them together in “compromises”. These are popular, cuts down the time, but means that one has to vote for some items where a No is wanted, and the other way about.

You might like to know that the two amendments I queried, see video, were both adopted. So “whistle blowers” will still not get protection. Bear in mind that this is Health & Safety, so we are not talking about the nasty little creep who wants to cause some one trouble, or to ingratiate himself/ herself with the boss, over someone, say, cheating on hours worked. We are talking about cutting corners, or deliberately ignoring a precaution, which could lead to injury or worse.

Small traders will also have their business curtailed on Sundays, a loss of trade hard to bear these days. I would agree that Sunday always used to be a day of rest, but try telling that to the supermarkets and high street multiples, times have changed.

Also up for vote today was, “Conditions of entry and residence of third country nationals for seasonal employment”. Third country means from outside the EU and this is only a proposal for  a directive, - the committee is actually asking the commission to set this up! Up to now, under third country legislation, businesses can move to the EU but not their workforce. This proposal would allow employees to come with the business and I do not have to spell out what that would mean.

A small detail emerged in a debate on the long running issue of MRI scanning, by which time the 30 committee members present had dwindled to 8, incl the president! Apparently, in some EU states it is illegal for medical staff, prior to taking a scan, to ask if the patient has a pacemaker or, unbelievably, to ask a woman if she is pregnant. Since an MRI scan is believed possibly to harm the unborn child......   

The day finished with an “exchange of views” on the EGF, European Globalisation Adjustment Fund. This mechanism was introduced to help with the consequences of a company closing, initially due to its relocation to outside the EU. Money is poured in to help employees to cope with loss of wages and to provide re-training, it is not intended to assist the company directly. Only Governments can apply and the threshold is 500 employees losing their jobs.

You should know that the number of applications is increasing, and they are always approved by this committee. There was a Portuguese application today, following, as far as memory serves, some 4 Austrian, 7 Danish and 8 from The Netherlands. The pace is accelerating due to this now being available for re-locations within the EU.

I did a short TV about this on Wednesday evening, which will appear in due course, where I hope I pointed out the essential scam. Firms moving across the EU do so with the aid of EU subsidies and the EU then comes in with yet more of your cash (EGF) to help the redundant employees in the original country. We pay twice over and no money comes back to us from the £51 million we now pay the EU every day, for I cannot remember any case of a UK company making a claim!

In the following EGF debate the Commissioner made great play of “Economic Governance”, which was well received. There are articles in place to cope with “macro-economic” events and all is in line with the “6 pack”. Its all linked to Policy and Economic Performance, including for some reason, Teacher Training! I listened up then but was disappointed not to hear more on that topic, except that it leads to cash flow. Prospective teachers need not worry, they will reduce the audit burden, they won’t even demand an audit of hotel expenses, but they will harmonise rules.

If you think this presentation to be a far cry from the real world of the Greek and Italian disasters you are mistaken. The undemocratic sacking of their properly elected prime Ministers and their replacement with unelected bureaucrats in bang in line with EU policy. Today’s speaker from the Commission remarked that all the above is in line with the development of Economic Governance, declaring:-

The European Commission will take over from Member States when necessary.

Derek Clark   MEP                                              Brussels 23rd Nov 2011

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