A study by the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) shows that a majority of low-income families in the European Union can't afford to take a holiday.
The study using data from the EU's statistical office, Eurostat, suggests that 28% of people over 16 years old lack the financial means to enjoy a one-week holiday. For those whose income falls below Eurostat's at-risk-of-poverty threshold, that number rises to 59.5%.
“A holiday should not be a luxury for the few. While many workers are away enjoying time off with friends and family, millions are missing out because of low pay,” Esther Lynch, deputy general secretary at ETUC said. “The rise in holiday inequality shows how the benefits of economic growth in Europe over the last decade haven’t been shared fairly.”
The at-risk-of-poverty threshold is set at 60% of national median income. Statutory minimum wages leave workers at risk of poverty in at least 16 EU member states and 22 million workers make less than 60% of the median the study suggests.
“The EU adequate minimum wages directive needs to be strengthened to ensure that wages are never so low that they leave workers living in poverty and collective bargaining is made a routine part of employment to ensure genuinely fair wages for all,” Lynch added.
In Belgium, 14.1% of the population is considered living in poverty according to figures by the Belgian statistical office, Statbel - meaning they live in a household with a total disposable income below the poverty line, which is set at 1,284 euros per month for a single person.
The ETUC is working with European legislators to introduce a “threshold of decency" into EU law.
The law would ensure statutory minimum wages could never be less than 60% of the median wage and 50% of the average wage of any EU nation. The organisation said the move could help deliver a pay raise to over 24 million people.
The Brussels Times