Access to opportunities more often than not depends on the specific group to which a worker belongs. The objective is to incorporate a policy aimed at removing discrimination (ex-post) along with proactive policies that provide equal opportunities (ex-ante). Reducing protection in the workplace increases discrimination at work. Measures that soften sanctions against unfair dismissals, reduce the power of trade unions (or works councils) in the workplace, or spread non-standard working contracts, weaken the current anti-discrimination acquis that provides for strict sanction systems.
Labour market exclusion or the underperformance of specific groups jeopardises economic and social stability. Discrimination therefore has to be monitored and reported, especially LGBTQI*, for which there are loopholes in terms of protection in national laws. Equal opportunities should be promoted using economic performance indicators. Remedies should come from a reinforced legal framework. They should remove discriminatory practices on labour platforms. Such practices may be deterred as a result of trade union surveillance. Trade unions have already denounced such tendencies, mainly within the context of discriminating against workers in relation to their access to “gigs” after they have undertaken any kind of collective action. Collective bargaining points the way ahead for better LGBTQI* protection in the workplace.
A horizontal directive on non-discrimination may be more appropriate, even though there has been no consensus from the Council to date. Equal opportunities should also be granted to asylum-seekers, currently excluded from the scope of anti-discrimination directives. Of particular importance is the use of material and immaterial resources to reinforce public discourse against xenophobia and racism.
Social partners can, jointly or unilaterally, develop tools to recognise, prevent and sanction discrimination while focusing on active measures for disadvantaged groups. They can establish closer cooperation with national equality bodies and build on the developments of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA).
Actions aimed at setting a minimum floor of rights in the EU, a level playing field in the Single Market
- Horizontal Directive on non-discrimination that recognises, prevents and sanctions discrimination.
- Remove derogations in the existing Anti-Discrimination Directive for third-country nationals who are seeking protection.
- Upcoming Council Recommendation on Roma equality, inclusion and participation.
- Upcoming new EU strategy on disability.
Actions aimed at establishing upward convergence in living and working conditions
- Trade Union Toolbox to recognise, prevent and sanction discrimination; support equality bodies and build on research and outcomes of the FRA.
- Innovative communication strategy and campaigns against xenophobia
- Highlighting links between trade union rights, labour legislation and equality and non-discrimination, starting from collective bargaining practices.