BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Warsaw is strongly opposed to changes put forward by the European Union's executive to equalise pay between seconded and local workers and hopes to block them together with other poorer countries in the bloc, Polish diplomatic sources said.
Seconded or "posted" workers, employed in one EU state but temporarily sent to work in another, make up less than 1 percent of all employment in the 28-nation bloc. But their number has jumped in recent years: There were some 1.9 million posted workers in the EU in 2014, the most recent data shows.
Employers are now not obliged to pay posted workers more than the minimum wage in the host country, which leads to underpayment of posted workers on the one hand but also to unfair competition between firms employing seconded or local workers.
The European Commission in March proposed equalising the pay of the two categories, saying that would protect workers' rights and ensure fairer competition.
The construction sector accounts for nearly half of all posted workers, and the practise is also popular in the manufacturing industry and personal and business services.
While the current system puts the better-off EU states at a disadvantage, low-wage countries in eastern and southern Europe benefit from it. The two camps are now set to lock horns over the outlined changes.
"This is a very, very bad proposal, an extreme change. It's entirely political but would have far-reaching consequences in the real economy, right up to ending seconding workers with the bloc altogether in the worst-case scenario," a Polish diplomat said.
"We are aiming to block it."
The diplomat said Warsaw was seeking to put together a coalition opposing the Commission's proposal and that the group would also consist of Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, Bulgaria and Cyprus.
Another Polish diplomatic source confirmed Warsaw was trying to build a blocking group.
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Hugh Lawson)