EEPOW: Workshop on Posting of Workers in Eastern Europe, legal framework and social implications

On 26 June 2018 in Tirana, it was organized the workshop on Posting of Workers in Eastern Europe (EEPOW), legal framework and social implications, about Directive 96/71/EC. This workshop aimed to discuss the process of alignment of national legislation on labour with the above mentioned Directive; how this Directive is applied by businesses; which are the institutional capacities on supervising the mobility for work reasons falling within this Directive; and how the Directive will affect the labour market in Albania, including the issues of social equality and proper employment.
The activity was organised by European Movement in Albania in cooperation with European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Austria and the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Slovenia in the framework of EEPOW project – Posting of Workers in Eastern Europe.
During his welcoming words, Mr. Gledis Gjipali, Executive Director of European Movement in Albania highlighted how important is the protection of workers’ rights and how different stakeholders involved in this process have a central role in protecting and promoting them, including: public authorities, business sector, workers associations, researchers etc.
The activity was welcomed by Ms. Silvana Banushi, Director of Employment Policies and VET, Ministry of Finance and Economy, who shared with the participants the discussion about the Directive of Posted Workers, during the process of updating and amending the labour legislation in Albania, and which were those factors that made possible the adoption of this directive within our national legislation. During her speech, she emphasized the efforts that institutions are making on implementing the Directive and furthermore to include it on agenda of activities planned by Employment and Skills National Strategy 2014-2018.
EEPOW project coordinator from European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research, Austria, Ms. Sonila Danaj firstly introduced the Directive 96/71/CE and its effects. She mentioned some cases of implementing this directive and its effects including: effects on labour market, cases related with social dumping, and others linked with violation of equal rights of posted workers, providing so some insights and lessons to be learnt by businesses, workers associations and institutions present during the meeting. Regardless of the fact that the main objective of the Directive is the regulation of movement of workers within EU, the progress of EU Integration process for the Western Balkans countries has fostered economic exchanges and mobility of labour forces between these regions, while increasing as well the number of posted workers. The distribution of posted workers regarding Eurostat data, presented by Ms. Danaj, showed that the sectors attracting more posted workers are the construction sector and agriculture. In Europe, even though the number of the workers that are posted it is not large (0.4% or 2 million workers), yet they have a significant effect to the countries they are being posted to. Germany is the main receiving country (50%), while Poland, Germany and Slovenia are the main sending ones.
Throughout 22 years of Directive implementation, sending and hosting countries have been facing some challenges especially linked with social protection schemes, i.e. covering of social insurance, reimbursement of costs in case of accidents during work, etc. Ms. Danaj, stated that in reality in most of the cases the posted workers are exposed from dangerous or risky works, or hard ones. They risk to be left out of protection of workers associations, sometimes because of the hesitation or obstacles to establish links and relations during the period these workers are posted. She explained some European Court of Justice Decisions related with such directive, like: Laval Unporteri LTD, Viking, Ruffert, Consumer Luxembourg etc, while representatives from Labour Inspectorate and workers associations were prone to discuss about them. Establishment of European Labour Authority and the proposal for some new amendments for the Directive on May 2018, will bring some positive changes and updates that will promote the protection of posted of workers’ rights.
Expert for the country report and research in Albania, Ms. Mimoza Agolli explained in more details the process of harmonisation of Albanian law with such Directive. She emphasised the sensitive features of the Directive in its political and economical dimension, as well as the necessity to undertake actions and measures to face successfully the effects of the Directive in the near future. Ms. Agolli on the other hand, underlined the asymmetry this Directive creates, because it is way more easier and convenient for Albania and businesses here to accept and to host posted workers in Albania, than to send workers in other EU countries. This asymmetry has made it difficult, yet not impossible for multinational companies to post workers from Albania to their branches in EU. During the interviews with representatives from business sector, they have assessed posting of workers procedure as the most effective way to transfer the capacities from European companies to national ones, improving so their business practices. Posting of workers to EU countries, in those economy sectors that have mostly unqualified labour forces, is not yet evidenced in Albania. There are some incentives that the Directive facilitates posting of workers in third countries.
After the presentation of most relevant features of the Directives, the meeting was focused on discussing four essential issues related with the Directive: legal and policy implications including social and labour rights; institutional/organisational information sharing and exchange; skills and labour markets; occupational health and safety. These topics are important to be analysed bearing in mind practical features of the cases, as well sharing experiences with EU countries. This discussion is important and an added value to business sector and public institutions as well.
Representation of Labour Inspectorate in Albania, during the discussion brought some relevant cases they have been working on, about the treatment of foreign workers employed in Albania under the framework of the Directive. At the moment, it is estimated that in Albania are 80 posted workers. They are mostly working in big cities of Albania such as: Fieri, Durrësi and Tirana, mainly in construction sector or other activities related with this field.
In conclusion, the participants of the workshop underlined the need for such discussions and assessed this workshop as important, being the first that has in its focus the Directive of Posted Workers and its effects in Albania. This workshop highlighted the new challenges that await Albania in the future related to the Directive: the need to work more and increase the efforts to provide more sublegal acts on regulating those specific aspects of posted workers employment.