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EU Coreper meeting: Construction workers warn over "explosion of fraud"

Date Released: 17 November 2023

The European Federation of Building and Woodworkers (EFBWW) and the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) have sounded the alarm for today’s Committee of Permanent Representatives in the European Union (Coreper) meeting.

The European sectoral social partners for the construction industry jointly oppose the possibility that prior notification would not apply to postings in the construction industry, including for short-term postings.

EFBWW and FIEC call on the Council to review its position and insist on the need for postings in the construction sector to be subject to prior notification. Prior notification is critical to ensure that worker protection and social standards are upheld in the construction sector so as to guarantee fair competition and prevent exploitation of workers.

EFBWW and FIEC sent a joint letter to the Swedish Presidency expressing their concerns about the impact of this decision on worker protection and the potential for social dumping to occur. In a joint statement, already released in 2021, EFBWW and FIEC emphasised the importance of addressing this issue.

Tom Deleu, EFBWW General Secretary, said: "This is an open door to the explosion of fraud in the construction sector and a frightening decrease in workers’ social security protection.

"Let’s not mark the 30 years of EU internal market with a decrease in workers’ social and health protection. We will not accept any exemption for our sectors."

Domenico Campogrande, FIEC Director General, said: "In order to combat fraudulent practices and to ensure a level playing field, it is of key importance to ensure that prior notification does effectively apply to postings in the construction industry, including for short-term postings."

Fraudulent behaviour incentivised by the exemption could include:
  • Fraudulent employers could split the posting periods "eternally" to avoid prior notification
  • Workers will be vulnerable, as sending and receiving member states can say they do not have competence to deal with a possible work-related accident
  • Labour inspectorates’ work will be harder due to the short-term posting periods
  • Many postings in the construction sector are short, so the majority would not even be notified