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The failure to implement necessary labour reforms in Europe will damage the region as the Agency Worker Directive (AWD) has still not been enforced in all countries, according to the head of the European Confederation of Private Employment Agencies (Eurociett), Annemarie Muntz.
Writing for the European Affairs daily Europolitics, Ms Muntz criticised the fact that not all countries have introduced the AWD. She said this was “regrettable” and argued that “there are many elements of the directive that would serve to create jobs, better match supply with demand in the workplace and bring more people into an official working status when previously they may have worked informally or been excluded from the labour force.”
The president of Eurociett also condemned that some countries in Europe still have restrictions in place which prevent the staffing industry from helping to cut down record levels of unemployment across Europe.
“These include limitations on the number of contract renewals that can be offered to agency workers (France, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania), restrictions on using agency workers in some sectors (public sector in Belgium and Greece, construction in Germany and Spain), and the prohibition of offering open ended contracts to workers (Belgium, Luxembourg, Portugal), which prevents the industry from presenting job opportunities to European citizens… it would be wise to recommend that countries remove all unjustified restriction on the agency work industry in order to promote employment.”
But Ms Muntz also praised those countries which have improved the situation for agency workers, particularly in Eastern Europe, where in some parts temporary agency work is now legally recognised and restriction on the use of staffing firms have been lifted.
“France, Romania and Spain, for example, have removed some sectoral bans; France and Italy have extended the range of contracts which temporary work agencies can offer and both Romania and Poland have increased the maximum length of agency work assignments,” Ms Muntz said.
She argued that “private employment agencies put over three million people to work every day in Europe” with those aged under 25 representing 35% of the agency workforce. But she was clear that more needed to be done and urged the EU “to fully implement the directive on temporary agency work, and the European Commission to effectively monitor this process in order that the sector can play its role fully and partner with governments, companies and workers in getting Europe back to work.”
This comes after Sweden last week gave in to pressure from the EU Commission to introduce the AWD by January 2013.