Working poverty leaves 35 million Europeans without holidays


A total of 4.7 million low-income people in Spain cannot afford to go on vacation. Spain is one of the 16 EU countries where the gap in access to vacations between rich and poor is increasing. This is clear from a study by the European Trade Union Federation (ETUC), carried out with Eurostat data, to which elDiario.es has had access, which finds that workers who receive a salary at poverty level are among the 35 millions of Europeans who cannot afford a summer vacation.


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While access to vacations has increased over the past decade, most low-income families remain excluded. Overall, 28% of EU citizens cannot afford to spend a week of vacation away from home, but that rises to 59.5% for people whose income is below the risk-of-poverty line (60% of the median).

The worst situation is in Greece, where 88.9% of people living at risk of poverty cannot afford a break, followed by Romania (86.8%), Croatia (84.7%), Cyprus (79, 2%) and Slovakia (76.1%).

Italy has the highest number of people in this category with 7 million, followed by Spain (4.7 million), Germany (4.3 million), France (3.6 million) and Poland (3.1 million).




The ETUC notes that inequality on holidays is part of its efforts “to strengthen the draft EU directive on adequate minimum wages and collective bargaining”, which will be examined by the European Parliament after the summer. The federation of European trade unions “is working with MEPs to introduce a decency threshold in legislation that would ensure that legal minimum wages can never be less than 60% of the median wage and 50% of the median wage of any Member State, thus that provides a salary increase to more than 24 million people. ”

In the case of Spain, according to the Brussels data extracted from the Eurostat estimates for 2019, the community statistical body, it would be necessary to go from 950 euros in 14 payments to 979 euros -from 1,108 to 1,142, if it were in 12 payments – if 60% of the median salary that Eurostat manages is considered. That is, an increase of 3%.

If one takes into account 50% of the average salary that Brussels uses, it would be to go from 1,108 euros a month to 1,116 – a rise of just under 1% -.

The recommendations of the European Social Charter, in which the Government agreement between PSOE and UP is referenced, they raise the ambition to “at least 60% of the average national net salary” – about 1,150 euros for 14 payments in the case of Spain.

Many Europeans whose incomes are below 60% of the median are unemployed or retired, but this group also includes millions of underpaid workers, particularly those earning the legal minimum wage. Legal minimum wages leave workers at risk of poverty in at least 16 EU member states and, according to the European Commission, 22 million workers earn less than 60% of the average.

An analysis of Eurostat data by the ETUC and the European Trade Union Institute for Research has found that inequality in holidays has increased in 16 Member States over the last decade among those with incomes below 60% of the median and those with income above that threshold.

For example, in Romania, 86.8% of people living at risk of poverty cannot afford a break compared to 46.7% of those with incomes above 60% of the median. This gap of 40.1 percentage points has been growing 17.1 points since 2010.

The greatest differences in access to holidays between the two groups are found in: Croatia (43.2 points), Greece (43 points), Bulgaria (42.4 points), Czech Republic (41.1 points), France ( 40.4 points) and Romania (40.1 points).

The largest increases in the gap were observed in: Romania (+17 percentage points), Slovakia (+14 percentage points), Croatia (+13.8 percentage points), Lithuania (+ 8.3 percentage points) and Hungary (+7 , 9 percentage points).




ETUC Deputy Secretary General Esther Lynch says: “A vacation should not be a luxury for a few. While many workers enjoy free time with friends and family, millions are being lost due to low wages. The increase holiday inequality shows how the benefits of economic growth in Europe over the last decade have not been shared fairly. The EU directive on adequate minimum wages must be strengthened to ensure that wages are never so low that they leave workers living in poverty and that collective bargaining becomes a routine part of employment to guarantee truly fair wages for all. ”

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