The Strategist

European trade unions accuse EU leaders of ignoring citizens' wages

10/25/2021 - 06:47

One of the main reasons why families in the European Union have been hit so hard by rising energy prices is low wages, but EU leaders at the summit sidestepped the issue, said Luca Visentini, general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC).

Tiia Monto
Tiia Monto
"One of the main reasons why families have been hit so hard by rising energy prices is low wages, but this topic seems to be completely absent from European Council discussions," he said in a statement posted on the organisation's website.

Even before the current price crisis, 9.5 million working people in Europe were struggling to pay their heating bills, he states.

"One of the most effective EU actions to fight energy poverty could be to strengthen the minimum wage directive to ensure that wages cannot be set below the poverty line," Visentini said.

The Commission should also reconsider its plans to extend the ETS to buildings in the EU, as this could add €35-40 per month to residents' energy bills. The secretary-general recalls that alternative energy sources for buildings that reduce emissions are not yet widely available for households to switch to.

The EU heads of state on the first day of the summit on 21 October discussed soaring energy prices and their impact on residents and businesses in the region. They also talked about responses to the situation. The leaders intend to revisit the issue at the summit in December, according to the conclusion to the Brussels summit.