MEPs' assistants in low-wage scandal
14 April 2006, BRUSSELS - MEPs often pay their parliamentary assistants a pittance, according to a new report in Flemish newspaper 'De Morgen'.
14 April 2006
BRUSSELS - MEPs often pay their parliamentary assistants a pittance, according to a new report in Flemish newspaper 'De Morgen'.
The article highlights the infrequency of proper contracts given to assistants - who are frequently given only trainee status - and the average wage, which is only between EUR 1,000 and EUR 1,200 per month.
Joeri Hamvas, a Belgian working as an assistant for a Dutch MEP and chairman of the recently established European Parliamentary Assistants' Association, cited the case of an Italian MEP's assistant who had been given a series of three-month trainee contracts since starting work at the European Parliament 18 months ago.
The assistant earns only EUR 700 per month. According to Hamvas, there are many other cases of the traineeship system being abused by MEPs.
Flemish green MEP Bart Staes confirmed Hamvas' story: "As well as abusing the traineeship system, some MEPs take advantage of rules - which are intended to make it possible for them to use external advisors - to underpay their staff. MEPs take on so-called self-employed staff, who they pay well under the going rate".
However, because working at the European Parliament is a welcome addition to any resume, many people are prepared to work for breadline wages.
Staes first raised the issue in 2003, when he discovered that many service contracts had been issued to staff at the parliament and discovered further that there was almost no control mechanism on an MEP's budget for such contracts.
New rules introduced in 2003 mean that MEPs now have to prove that their employees are up to date with their tax and social security payments.
But figures from 2005 show that only 21 percent of MEPs handed in documentary evidence of their expenditure on staff to the European Parliament.
[Copyright Expatica News 2006]
Subject: Belgian news