“European rules on tendering procedures must not undermine workers’ rights and social conditions” said Labour MEP for Ireland South Phil Prendergast, further to the passing of a resolution on public procurement in the European Parliament.
Speaking from the European Parliament in Strasbourg, Ms. Prendergast, who secured key amendments to the resolution, ahead of proposals for review from the European Commission, said:
“When public authorities purchase goods and services to meet our citizens’ various needs, we must not ignore the needs of the workers who provide them, for the sake of securing the cheapest price at any price.
“That is why that the penny-wise, pound-foolish “cheapest tender” principle needs to be reviewed so as to cover social and environmental criteria, taking into account the full costs of each option presented to us.
“Decent work standards have to be upheld. Otherwise, when pursuing various public interest goals, we risk undermining social conditions. Fair and equal pay and proper working conditions which safeguard health and safety are not incompatible with sound management of the public purse.
“On the contrary, socially-minded tendering rules will help us meet citizens’ needs while stimulating innovation and cost-effectiveness.
“Tender applicants must not be allowed to secure contracts, and evade their obligations towards workers, by hiding behind a chain of sub-contractors which can render them unaccountable. This is also why we need more legal clarity.
“In this light, we also need to consider changes to the current thresholds for tendering rules to kick in, so as to ensure that charities, NGOs and small local operators are not deprived of access to these markets owing to legal and administrative burdens which are unjustified in the environments these organisations operate in, and paralyse them to nobody’s benefit.”