At a wage union conference entitled “Equal pay for equal work” economists, academics, experts, MEPs and trade union leaders discussed the wage gaps in the European Union, problems of competitiveness, pros and cons of workforce mobility and the demographic crisis’s impact on the job market.
Jobbik MEP Zoltan Balczo, who was hosting the three-panel event at the European Parliament in Brussels, stressed in his opening speech that “eliminating wage gaps is common European interest”. According to Balczo this can only be realised if the economic performance of CEE countries grows, and competitive companies can produce higher wages.
Economist and University of Oxford fellow Peter Rona called it striking that the EU doesn’t even try to create the conditions the macroeconomic harmonisation. He said the EU institutions are unable to deal with convergence, so he suggested appointing a commissioner for it.
French MP Frédéric Petit said that the principle of “Equal pay for equal work” should be completed with the principle of “same living standards at the same place”. He explained that there can be huge differences not only between EU member states, but even inside the countries.
Jobbik MP Marton Gyongyosi, head of the wage union initiative said that low wages have serious consequences, real income, capital accumulation and savings decrease, but dependence increases. He highlighted that the EU’s cohesion policy should be reformed. EU money should be spent on education, innovation, r&d and health care. He added: either there will be a wage union, or the EU falls apart.
The further panel discussions were attended by Monika Ladmanova, Advisor to the Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality; Przemyslaw Worek, vice-chair of the Polish Solidarnosc 80 trade union; Paulo Marcos, head of the Portuguese Union of Independent Trade Unions (USI); Zbigniew Krysiak. adjunct professor of the Warsaw School of Economics; Liene Dobele, director in EY Europe, Middle East, India and Africa region for Public Policy; and LMP MEP Tamas Meszerics.
At the closing press conference Zoltan Balczo welcomed this possibility to discuss important and current questions in the European Parliament. According to Gyongyosi they brought the wage union initiative to exactly that place, where it’s the most important to discuss it. Considering the wage union initiative Paulo Marcos said that it follows the ideas of the EU’s founding fathers.
“Our fate is similar, the same problems concern Southern Europeans and Eastern Europeans. Emigration is a great problem for Southern countries too,”
– he stated. Regarding the Brussels conference he said it’s important to draw the public attention to inequalities and that he supports the wage union initiative.