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EU seeks to stem rising tide of lower-salaried foreign workers

BRUSSELS--EU labor ministers gave initial approval on Monday to tougher rules on employing cheap temporary workers from eastern Europe and elsewhere, responding to political unease at a time of record joblessness.

Ministers agreed to curtail abuses of European Union law that enable companies to move cheaper, foreign workers from one EU country to another, but which trade unions say prevent locals from getting work.

Tightening the law would force companies to provide more documentation, proving that the contracts for workers are bona fide.

Under EU rules, workers may be posted abroad for up to two years for a specific purpose. Their contracts must respect the labor law of the host country, but social security charges remain those of the home state.

In France, that means they must be paid the gross minimum wage of about 1,400 euros (US$1,900) a month for a 35-hour week, with five weeks annual holidays. But they are not liable to French payroll levies, which are the highest in Europe.

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