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Stop social dumping

In order to guarantee workers’ equality, the EU must tackle the crucial problem of SOCIAL FRAUD, ABUSE and EVASION of wages, working conditions and social protection. For this we need: DECENT PREVENTION, PROPER CONTROL and EFFECTIVE SANCTIONS.

Since 2010 the EFBWW, proposed several concrete actions to tackle "illicit work" in the construction industry at EU-level. The proposed concrete actions can be downloaded in [GB] [IT] [NL] [ESP] [DE] [FR] and [DA]  


Social dumping and worker’s exploitation are widespread practices in the EU, where foreign workers are exploited as “cheap labour” in order to increase profit margins of companies. Every year millions of migrant workers are employed in the construction and many other branches with no social protection, deplorable wages and inhuman living conditions. These workers are the “slaves” of the 21st century. Every year millions of migrant workers are attracted to work abroad, with false promises made by “gangmasters”. In reality they end up in a foreign country, where they are treated as second rank workers, working hard for pocket money. Due to their marginalization in a foreign country and the risk to be sanctioned by their employers, these workers have often no recourse to address their plight.

Social dumping and workers’ exploitation are practices which do not happen sporadically, they are deliberately facilitated – and on sometimes even promoted – by European and national free market business model systems. Some EU Member States are less strict about monitoring the companies on their territory, in order to attract certain unlawful business. The State and business engineered systems turn a blind eye to the inhuman treatment of these workers. Often, the sending countries are quite happy to get rid of their workers. Social dumping always goes hand-in-hand with fake self-employment, fake social documents, fraudulent and abusive posting, illicit (temporary) agency work and some occasions with corruption, organized crime and human trafficking.

Social dumping and workers’ exploitation have devastating consequences for our (European) labour market and the credibility of the European internal market. The biggest victims are of course the migrant workers, who are just looking to improve their lives and escape poverty. Instead they are confronted with ruthless exploitation. Law-abiding companies are getting frustrated by the enormous competitive advantage of their cheating competitors. At the same time national labour market systems and social protection systems are seriously undermined and circumvented.

The EFBWW is vigorously committed to combat all forms of cross-border social fraud, abuse and evasion!

The current open European market economy has paved the road for cross-border social dumping and workers’ exploitation in the EU. In the newspapers we read about “Pyotr” who fell from a scaffolding and was left on the street by his employer because he was not insured; we see the Bulgarian workers on our building sites working from dawn till dusk without protection; we know that most migrant workers are employed in the meat industry as “modern slaves”.

The most common ways for circumventing minimum standards are associated with a business model of companies that uses the non-level playing field of the European internal market, which is facilitated by legal loopholes and a consequent lack of prevention, control and enforcement of social dumping practices. Fraudulent companies have a wide range of options they can use easily: bogus self-employment; the use of letter-box companies; inexistent or poor controls in some countries, the knowledge that cross-border cooperation and information exchange is difficult and inefficient, if not inexistent; and the fact that the cross-border collection of fines and enforcement of judgements are virtually impossible.

The practice of widespread social dumping and exploitation is a deliberate choice. The unwillingness of our European and national governments to acknowledge the real problem and danger must be stopped. We can no longer accept that migrant workers are exploited! For this we need to increase awareness and demonstrate what the daily reality is of millions of workers in the EU. European and national politicians must accept that the current European “free movement” policy has had shocking consequences for many migrant workers. Every day, new forms of cross-border social fraud and abuses, are emerging in the construction industry. For this reason the EFBWW decided to develop the long-term campaign “STOP SOCIAL DUMPING”. If we want we can stop the practice of “social dumping” in the EU!


European social clause in the EU-Treaty Sufficient, well trained and equiped labour, social and tax inspectors at the workplaces
Close all EU-legal and administrative loopholes Strong domestic cooperation between trade unions and all national authorities
Proper functioning EU institutions (European Labour Authority, Adminirative Commission on social security …) Efficient national and regional prevention, control and enforcement instruments
European social security card and number for all workers Protection of exploited workers
EU legislation for unconditional joint and several chain liaibilty in subcontracting Social identity card to control wages and working conditions
No EU interferences in national prevention, control or enforcement measures Proper cooperation and exchange of all relevant data between national administrations
No EU interferences in proper functioning national labour markets and the role of the social partners Effective protective measures for workers in case of serious assumptions and cases of social fraud and/or abuse
Actively promote and foster sectoral bi-partite industrial relations Respect of the autonomy of the sectoral social partners and the right to take industrial actions
Efficient tools to control the role of intermediary labour suppliers in the construction industry and where needed exclude them Develop concrete national actions to prevent, control and enforce all forms of sociall fraud, abuse and evasion, with the direct involvent of the trade unions 
Immediately put and end to letter-box companies and cross-border fake self-employment Increased use of smart data and strenghten te work of the national inspectorates and trade unions
Significantly improve cross-border exchange of digital data