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Better rights for non-EU seasonal workers

The European Parliament and Council Presidency have agreed a new draft law that will give non-EU seasonal workers better working and living conditions, including a minimum wage and proper accommodation. The new rules, which have also received the backing of national governments, aim to end exploitation and to prevent temporary stays becoming permanent.

According to EU Commission estimates, more than 100,000 third-country seasonal workers come to the EU every year.

These rules, the first to be agreed at EU level on seasonal work, will not affect the right of member states to decide how many seasonal workers they allow in. Member states will also be free to widen the definition of “seasonal work” beyond the traditional one of tourism and agricultural work such as fruit picking, provided they consult social partners where appropriate and ensure that all the activities defined have a “seasonal aspect”.

“We finally have agreement on a Directive that manages temporary, legal migration and ensures protection of workers from exploitation,” commented Parliament’s rapporteur Claude Moraes. “It will be a strong tool to ensure humane conditions for low wage workers, discourage undercutting, and benefit good employers.”

The agreed text will be put to a vote by the Civil Liberties Committee in November, and a plenary one currently scheduled for January 2014. If the new rules are approved, member states would have two and a half years to put them into effect.

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