The National Secretary of FIOM calls for stopping the EU’s new Directives on Working Time and “Bolkenstein Directive”


Two Directives of the European Union presently under discussion, can cause enormous damages to workers rights and to collective bargaining systems. The revision of the Directive on Working Time further worsens the rules which have already enlarged work time flexibility. Flexibility would be extended up to 48 weekly hours throughout the whole year. Individual output would allow weekly work time up to 65 hours. The conditions of on-call workers and of all those workers without a definite working time would be further worsened. The new Directive on Work Time is therefore unacceptable, it destroys national agreements and opens the way for completely arbitrary treatment of weekly working times, for their total individualization. This Directive therefore has to be completely rejected and FIOM calls on action all political parties in order to avoid the questioning of fundamental workers’ rights.

Further, the National Secretariat of the FIOM supports the campaign against the EU’s “BOLKENSTEIN DIRECTIVE”. This Directive, approved by the European Commission on January 13th, last, will be discussed from November 11th by the EU parliament and the related procedures are likely to be closed within spring 2005.

The gravity of the Directive lies in the fact that it undermines the principles of solidarity and equality, the extension of social and labor rights, which should be the basis of the EU and which are essential in many constitutions, including the one of the Italian republic. The Directive asserts the principle of the most savage competition in the field of services, economical activities and work contracts in the name of the extension of free market and free competition.

There are many unacceptable points in the Directive, but the worst lies in article 16. concerning the principle of the countries of origin. According to this new principle, a supplier of services is subject exclusively to the laws of the country where the headquarters of the companies are located and not to the ones of the country where the service is being provided.  An enterprise can engage workers and then transfer them to another state, maintaining the laws, contracts, security and control rules of the country of origin. It becomes thus possible to establish a huge, perfectly legalized system on European level, based on the irregular recruiting and broking of manpower, wherein workers are engaged in countries with lower wages and less rights and then transferred to work in countries with better work conditions, without any change in their working and social conditions.

It is clear that this undermines collective agreements, law and security rules, creating a process of savage competition between companies and among workers, leading to a process which dismantles European social rights.

FIOM holds necessary to cancel this Directive and calls on an action plan tradeunions, social movements (the European Social Forum in London already having declared its support in this regard) and political parties, in order to prevent an issue of similar importance from being discussed only on institutional levels, keeping major parts of public opinion on the dark about it.

FIOM commits all his organization to participating in the action campaign for knowing and stopping the DIRECTIVE ON WORK TIME and the “BOLKENSTEIN DIRECTIVE”  and for reaffirming those principles of social solidarity and equality of rights which have to be the basis of the European Community.


Rome, October 27, 2004