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Scrapping of European maternity leave directive an affront to women

17 July, 2014IndustriALL Global Union together with IndustriAll European Trade Union has appealed to the new President of the European Commission to prioritize the rights of working women as the Commission ditches a proposal to improve maternity rights.

The Maternity Leave Directive, which was adopted by the European parliament in 2010, has been withdrawn entirely by the European Commission in a move made behind closed doors on 15 July in Brussels.

The Commission has effectively buried the proposal under the guise of its REFIT agenda to slim down legislation.

Over the past four years, certain member states consistently blocked the Maternity Leave Directive which aimed to guarantee working women across the European Union paid maternity leave for 20 weeks, as well as make sure women are protected after they return to work.

In a joint letter to Jean-Claude Juncker, the newly elected EU president, Jyrki Raina from IndustriALL and Ulrich Eckelmann from IndustriAll Europe, said:

“The idea that maternity leave is being sacrificed to the REFIT agenda because it is not efficient is an affront to the rights of women everywhere. Maternity rights are part of the equality agenda, which you indeed have promised to support.

Reconciliation of work and family life is still a concern for many working people, and this directive provides part of the necessary support that families need. Furthermore, strengthening maternity rights is just one way to combat the ageing societies that we are now faced with all over Europe.”

Raina and Eckelmann also called for a fresh start from Juncker to ensure that negotiations to revise the maternity leave directive positively are resumed.