Stefan Schwarz’s speech opening the VI ELMC plenary session

Stefan Schwarz, president of the Labour Mobility Initiative Association has given the address, opening the plenary session of the VI European Labour Mobility Congress.

Together with the introduction to the ELMC topics and main theme of the recent edition: ‘New posting rules. Problems solved? Fairness Guaranteed?’, he also referred to the issues which divide or unite the Europe and particular backgrounds in the context of cross-border service provision. A question was posed whether the new rules will result in deepening the divisions or neutralizing them?

The reality of the posting of workers and story behind the ELMC

The participants also heard about what kind of a need became an inspiration to organize the European Labour Mobility Congress and how the reality of the workers and employers involved in the cross-border service provision has been changing since the first edition.

Many years ago, a dream appeared in our heads. These were the times when Central and Eastern European exporters of services resembled a bit a herd of antelopes attacked by lions. They were running ahead, and when they saw a lion, they turned back and started to run in the opposite direction. They did not think about the reasons why they had been attacked or how to defend themselves. They were just trying to survive by running the fastest they could, hoping that the lion would get someone else.

That is why we decided to organise an event that would gather in one place the representatives of all groups interested in the issues of work mobility. And I must say that it was not an easy task, as the politics keeps creating divisions between us.

This is the reason why the European Labour Mobility Congress is an important event, because it unites. It unites the representatives of employees and employers. It unites entrepreneurs and academics. It unites representatives from more and less affluent Member States.

We, gathered here today, Ladies and Gentlemen, are not interested in politics. What we are interested in is solving everyday problems. The problems of both workers employed in companies and the ones who run these companies. But also of politicians creating legal regulations and officials whose task is to enforce these regulations on daily basis.

The current shape

More and more often doubts can be heard whether the EU market is in fact a common market. Such doubts are reasonable, especially in case of the service market, in which recently the barriers between the Member States re-emerge increasingly instead of being broken down and legislative decisions are made based on particular interest of the Member States and not on the Union’s well-being. However, Member States themselves as well as employers and workers are able to act in order to reform the legislative reality in which they are functioning.

Unfortunately, when it comes to goods and capital, European market is truly common, but in terms of services, we can say that it is not really the case. Because, if a company from one Member State wants to deliver services in another Member State, it will meet numerous obstacles.

True problems and violations

Numerous regulations, complicating activity of the Polish enterpreneurs and the posting of workers, originate from stereotypes and prejudices. These, in turn, come from mistaking these enterpreneurs with the real ‘dirty players’.

Subsidiaries, serving only as posting platforms, usually have a high propensity to risk, and therefore, sooner or later, they start to violate the law. And when they are caught doing it, the accusation appears that “Polish companies play unfair”, and “Polish Social Insurance Institution (ZUS) issues A1 to everyone who asks”. The truth is that, these are not Polish companies, and ZUS does not have legal tools not to issue A1 forms to these companies. Moreover, standard A1 form was designed in such unfortunate manner that on the first and second page, there is all data, and on the third page – only the signature of the institution certifying it. This allows criminals to easily falsify them by replacing the last page, and thus making the employees, who received such form, erroneously believe that they were posted legally and their social security contributions are paid.

We can see how deep and emotional is the aversion of politicians from some Member States towards the posted workers and their employers, for example, thanks to the case judged by the Court of Justice of the European Union. It was made by the small Slovene company Čepelnik (…). This case shows that member states, in the name of fighting against what they feel to be unfair, are ready to violate the UE law by themselves – in order to “restore fairness”. So, it is worth asking a question: are they successful in it?

Read the full version of Stefan Schwarz’s speech opening the VI ELMC Plenary Session.