At Tuesday’s sitting of the Riigikogu, the Bill on Amendments to the Equal Treatment Act (196 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Monika Haukanõmm, Dmitri Dmitrijev, Helmen Kütt, Maire Aunaste and Liina Kersna, passed the first reading. The aim of the Bill is to eliminate unequal treatment of social groups, and to ensure uniform protection against discrimination for all people, regardless of their nationality, race, colour, religion or beliefs, age, disability or sexual orientation.
Member of the Riigikogu Monika Haukanõmm explained that, as a result of § 2 of the Equal Treatment Act, a situation has arisen where people are treated unequally. Under subsection 2 (1), discrimination on grounds of nationality, race or colour is prohibited in seven spheres: upon access to employment or to occupation, upon entry into employment contracts or entry into contracts for the provision of services, in vocational training, and in membership of associations; upon access to the services of social welfare, healthcare and social security, including social benefits; as well as in education, and with regard to access to goods and services provided to the public, including housing.
Haukanõmm said that subsection 2 (2) of the same Act provides that discrimination of persons on grounds of religion or beliefs, age, disability or sexual orientation is prohibited only in four spheres. “Summed up in general terms, this means that such persons must not be discriminated against upon access to employment and access to occupation. Thus a conclusion can be drawn here that discrimination on grounds of religion, beliefs, age, disability or sexual orientation is not prohibited, and discrimination is totally acceptable in social welfare, health care, social insurance, education and provision of goods and services intended for the public, and with regard to the availability of housing,” Haukanõmm said. She stressed that the aim of the Bill is to eliminate unequal treatment of social groups, and to ensure uniform protection against discrimination for all people.
Jaak Madison, who took the floor on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party in the debate, moved to reject the Bill at the first reading.
In the opinion of Mihhail Stalnuhhin, who took the floor on behalf of the Centre Party Faction, some questions should be resolved in the course of the proceedings, for example in regards to ethnic origin.
The result of voting: 10 members of the Riigikogu in favour and 54 against. Thus the motion of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party was not supported.
The Riigikogu approved two Resolutions:
The Riigikogu approved with 55 votes in favour (28 against, 2 abstentions) the Resolution, submitted by the European Union Affairs Committee, which does not support the European Commission’s proposal for a directive on the posting of workers.
The Resolution of the Riigikogu “Reasoned Opinion to the President of the European Parliament, the President of the European Commission and the President of the Council of the European Union on the Incompatibility with the Principle of Subsidiarity of the Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 1996 concerning the Posting of Workers in the Framework of the Provision of Services” (225 OE) contains a reasoned opinion on why the proposal for a Posted Workers Directive submitted by the European Parliament in March is incompatible with the principle of subsidiarity. The European Union Affairs Committee is of the opinion that the proposed amendments may damage the competitiveness of companies in the provision of services in other Member States of the European Union, and may limit the free movement of services. Also, in the opinion of the committee, the need for intervention at European Union level has not been sufficiently justified.
The European Commission has prepared a proposal for amending the Posting of Workers Directive that aims to unify the conditions, including pay and working conditions, applicable to posted workers and national workers. The proposed amendment would limit the maximum duration of a posting to 24 months, and from then onwards, the labour law of the host country would be applied with regard to the posted worker. The proposals will have an impact on the employers who post their workers to other Member States or who receive posted workers.
”We find that the proposed revision of the Directive, intended by the European Commission to reduce unfair practices related to the posting of workers, and to ensure equal pay conditions for the same work at the same place, may damage the competitiveness of companies in the provision of services in other Member States of the European Union, and may limit the free movement of services,” said the Chairman of the European Union Affairs Committee Kalle Palling.
“It is questionable whether the principle of equal pay for equal work in the same place is in conformity with the principle of a single market. Pay rate differences constitute one legitimate element of competitive advantage for service providers and, in view of the great difference in pay rates in Member States, several Member States will very likely not be able to ensure the pay conditions of the host country to a posted worker,” Palling said. He added that this may in turn hinder the posting of workers.
Martin Helme, who took the floor on behalf of the Conservative People’s Party Faction in the debate, said that the Estonian Conservative People’s Party supports the protection of the principle of sovereignty and subsidiarity, and yet the faction would move to reject the draft Resolution for one reason. “We would like to see how the members of the Riigikogu will vote on the issue of sovereignty,” Helme said.
Eiki Nestor, who took the floor on behalf of the Social Democratic Party Faction, pointed out the reasons why he did not support the draft Resolution. “I am convinced that the principle of equal pay for equal work in the same place is fair with regard to employees, as well as honest with regard to businesses who employ these people. Pay rate differences must by no means be a competitive advantage,” Nestor said. He added that the pay must be the same for the same work in the same place.
Kalle Palling, who took the floor on behalf of the Reform Party Faction, called on to support the draft Resolution.
On the motion of the European Union Affairs Committee, the final vote on the draft Resolution was held, which was supported by the Riigikogu.
The Riigikogu approved with 67 votes in favour (1 abstention) the Resolution of the Riigikogu “Appointment of an Auditor for Supervising the Activities of the National Audit Office in 2016–2018” (223 OE), submitted by the Finance Committee. With the Resolution, Grant Thornton Baltic OÜ is appointed to supervise the activities of the National Audit Office in 2016-2018. Under § 5 of the National Audit Office Act, the Riigikogu appoints, on the proposal of the Finance Committee, an audit undertaking to supervise the activities of the National Audit Office in 2016–2018. The Finance Committee acted on the results of a public procurement organised by the National Audit Office.
Martin Helme, who took the floor on behalf of the Estonian Conservative People’s Party in the debate, moved to reject the draft Resolution at the first reading. On the motion of the lead committee, the final vote on the draft Resolution was held, which was supported by the Riigikogu.
The first reading of a Bill was adjourned in the Riigikogu:
The Bill on the Repeal of the Registered Partnership Act (185 SE), initiated by members of the Riigikogu Viktor Vassiljev, Jaak Madison, Henn Põlluaas, Rein Ratas, Jaanus Karilaid, Arno Sild, Martin Helme, Raivo Põldaru, Olga Ivanova, Uno Kaskpeit, Martin Repinski, Mihhail Stalnuhhin, Mart Helme, Erki Savisaar and Märt Sults, provides for the repeal of the content and aims of the Registered Partnership Act. The aim of the Bill is to put an end to the confusion created with the Act, which may violate the principle of legitimate expectation and consequently bring numerous court decisions, and costs for the taxpayer.
The first reading of the Bill was adjourned due to the end of the working hours of the Riigikogu and it will be resumed at Wednesday’s sitting,
The first reading of the Bill on Amendments to the State Funeral Benefits Act (193 SE), initiated by the Centre Party Faction, was postponed to Wednesday’s sitting due to the end of the working hours of the Riigikogu.
The Riigikogu did not deliberate the Bill on Amendments to the Status of Members of the Riigikogu Act and the Local Government Organisation Act (181 SE), initiated by the Constitutional Committee, because the documents of the Bill had not been made available to members of the Riigikogu before the sitting.
Due to the absence of the presenter of the report, the Riigikogu did not deliberate the Bill on Amendments to the Penal Code (Transposition of the Market Abuse Directive) (220 SE), initiated by the Government.
Video recordings of the sittings of the Riigikogu can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/riigikogu
(NB! The recording will be uploaded with a delay.)
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