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EU agrees on new labour rules to prevent ‘social dumping’

Brussels – EU countries have agreed new rules to prevent so-called social dumping and make employers pay foreign workers the same as locals, the European commissioner for employment said late Monday.

"Equal pay for equal work at same place at heart of #SocialEurope," Marianne Thyssen wrote on Twitter after the meeting of European Union social affairs ministers in Luxembourg.

The 1996 posted workers directive governs the employment of EU workers in other countries within the bloc and mandates certain standards, such as the payment of local minimum wages. Trade unions complain however that employers often use loopholes to abuse the rules.

Deprecation of standards

In France and other countries, the directive is perceived as having paved the way for employers to hire Eastern European workers on the cheap, known as "social dumping," while driving down locals' wages and social standards.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been the most vocal critic of the regulations, and has been lobbying Central and Eastern European governments to reform the directive.

According to figures from 2015, the legislation affects slightly over 2 million workers in the bloc: Poland, Germany and France were the main sending countries, while Germany, France and Belgium were the main receiving countries.

The European Commission says foreign workers often receive only half what locals are paid.