TRADE unions and employers'bodies from across Europe were planning to protest in Brussels today (Thursday) against a new EC Directive they fear will be 'catastrophic' for construction.
Workers and contractors are up in arms over the EC Directive on Services in the Internal market - otherwise known as the 'Bolkestein directive' after the European Commissioner who drafted it.
The directive proposes that companies and workers should be able do business in any EC country but should only be subject to the laws of their home country, rather than having to meet regulations of other states.
The unions believe this will lead to a flood of underqualified and possibly illegal workers and a lessening of standards.They argue that companies will simply set up in the countries with the least strict legislation and tout for work throughout the EU.
The European Federation of Building and Woodworkers, which is organising the demonstration said: 'By means of the directive, the European Commission is seeking to abolish national protective measures.
'For the construction sector, this would be an outright disaster and open the door to illegal contractors and fraudsters.'
The directive, designed to cut red tape, could begin to be implemented as soon as next year.
Construction Plant-hire Association chief Colin Wood, one of the lobbyists, said:
'What if someone comes in from a country where it isn't compulsory to where a safety helmet? That could cause real problems on sites.'