top of page

Labour rights under pressure across Europe

Countries across Europe are struggling to comply with their international legal obligations concerning rights for workers, according to the latest annual conclusions from the European Committee of Social Rights (ECSR). The worst country is Georgia, where the guaranteed right to public holidays with pay does not exist, nor does the respect of reasonable working hours. The right to equal pay for work of equal work is not conformed to and the right of free organization and independent trade unions is not established.

The ECSR, part of the 47-nation Council of Europe, published a few days ago 580 conclusions assessing compliance with the European Social Charter on issues including the right to reasonable working hours, fair pay and protection against harassment in 35 countries and territories (*) between 2013 and 2016.

The conclusions finding the highest proportion of violations concerned

- the right of all workers to a reasonable period of notice for termination of employment (95.8%)

- the right of workers and employers to collective action, including the right to strike (73.3%)

- rules limiting the scope for deductions from wages (64.3%).

The ECSR also found that most of the states concerned failed to ensure that the lowest net wages paid met the minimum threshold to give workers and their families a decent standard of living (defined as 60% of the net average wage).

The worst country is Georgia

The Committee says that in Georgia among other issues it has not established that:

- there is appropriate authority that supervises that daily and weekly working time limits are respected in practice

- the work performed during public holidays is adequately compensated and a weekly rest period is also guaranteed

- night workers are effectively the subject to compulsory regular medical examination

- employees are adequately protected against discrimination on grounds of trade union membership in practice

- trade unions are entitled to perform their activities without interferences from authorities and/or employers

- members of police and those employed in internal affairs, customs and taxation, in judicial bodies and the office of the public prosecutor enjoy the right to organise

- the right to collective action of workers and employers, including the right to strike, is adequately recognised

- adequate prevention of moral (psychological) and sexual harassment in relation to the workplace is ensured.

Also positive developments

The conclusions also highlighted a series of positive developments in the application of the European Social Charter concerning labour rights in many countries. The conclusions findings the highest proportion of conformity concerned the right to information and consultation (85.7%), the right to promote joint consultation between workers and employers (84.4%) and the right to quickly be informed, in writing, about the essential aspects of a contract or employment relationship (81.8%).


The European Social Charter is a legally-binding Council of Europe treaty, launched in 1961, which safeguards economic and social rights in areas such as housing, health, education, employment and social protection. A revised version of the charter was opened for signature in 1996.

The European Committee of Social Rights is a body composed of 15 independent and impartial experts which assesses the extent to which national laws and practices comply with the charter.


bottom of page