Millions of Europeans are unable to pay their energy bills due to rising electricity and gas prices, the European Trade Union Confederation (CES) warned today in a statement.
"Around 9,5 million economically active citizens were already struggling to pay their energy bills" before inflation jumped to a year-on-year record high of 9,1% in the euro zone in August, CES said. which is based on a study by the European Trade Union Institute.
From July 2021 to July 2022, the cost of gas and electricity rose by 38% across Europe "and it's still going up".
Consequently, in 16 European Union member states, including France, "minimum wage workers have to put aside a month's salary, or even more, to continue to have light and heat at home them", the unions emphasize. In 2021, this was the case in only 8 of the 27 EU member states.
In 2022, an economically active citizen in Estonia thus has to work 26 days more than in 2021 to pay his annual energy bill, and an economically active citizen in the Netherlands 20 days more.
In Slovakia, Greece, the Czech Republic and Italy, "the average annual energy bill now represents more than one month's salary for an economically active citizen earning the average salary" of their country, CES reports.
“When your annual bill costs more than a month's salary, there's no trick to saving that money. These prices are simply impossible to be paid by millions of people", underlines expressing her concern the deputy general secretary of CES Esther Linds, who is cited in the announcement.
Unions are therefore calling on European governments, which will meet at the end of the week in Prague to discuss energy issues, "to put an end to price increases that are impossible to support".
In a six-point plan, addressed to European decision-makers, they call for an increase in wages, and in particular the minimum wage.
CES is also calling for caps on energy bills and a tax on the "extraordinary profits" of energy companies.
Paris and Berlin have pushed in recent days for a simple, non-tax contribution from these businesses.
"Political officials need to address this crisis before it costs lives this winter," Esther Lynch insisted.