Together for decent work – this is the slogan of the action week organised by the European Transport Workers’ Federation ETF, which took place across Europe from March 22nd to 27th. The highlight was a demonstration in Brussels with around 5,000 participants, who had a clear message: No more social dumping on Europe’s roads, rail, at sea and in the air!
More than 11 million people in the EU are working in the transport sector. And as wide-ranging individual job descriptions may be, they are united by the danger of social dumping. The risk of exploitation is huge, in particular in international transport. For example, posted employees often earn less than the local workforce. They work excessive long hours, only get limited and precarious jobs or they are forced to work in bogus self-employment.
After more than hundred campaigns throughout Europe, a large rally took place in Brussels on March 27th, in which thousands of trade unionists from all over Europe took part. Their demands are clear: cross-border jobs are more frequent in the transport sector and therefore are not a national issue. Therefore it is up to the EU to act. 250.000 additional jobs are needed throughout Europe to ensure decent working conditions. Apart from that, emphasis must be placed on indefinite full-time jobs and fair pay. Wage increases also have a positive effect on the economy, on growth and thereby also for companies and their employees.
In the aviation sector, especially cheap airlines are guilty of poor working conditions and low pay. However, on March 27th the german Trade Union ver.di was able to announce some good news as for the first time they had been able to conclude a collective agreement with Ryanair.
There is excessive competition, in particular in the transport sector; too many companies are breaking national and European rules to get an advantage. In order to be able to enforce rules also across borders, the European Union has decided on establishing a European Labour Authority (ELA). However, the ETF would like to see this authority to have more competencies to effectively tackle social dumping.
Above all, the ETF also puts the conditions of female employees at the centre: only 20 % of employees in the transport sector are women. An ETF survey found that recently 63 % of women had to endure at least one recent act of violence at work. The ETF demands that the EU and its Member States put more emphasis on this problem and support - also at international level a new Convention of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) on gender-based violence.
Over the next years, especially the transport sector will be faced with dramatic changes due to automation and digitization. Hence, the ETF demands that these changes will be carried out in a socially responsible manner. What is also needed are job guarantees for employees. Employees, whose jobs will no longer exist in future, have to be supported by further education and retraining.
For two years now, the EU institutions have been negotiating the Mobility Package, which is supposed to create better and fairer working conditions for road transport workers. Whilst the Council was able to achieve its general orientation in December, the fronts in Parliament continue to be hardened, as many MEPs from Southern and Eastern Europe negate the poor working conditions of employees and rather refer to free access to the Single Market for their companies. More than 1,600 amendments with regard to applying the Directive on the posting of workers in road transport, on driving times and rest periods as well as on market access for companies (cabotage) were tabled for the planned vote on March 27th. Due to the large number of amendments, the vote has been postponed for a week.