All aboard for a European Year of Railway Workers!

10 Dec 2020

Back in March 2020, with the objective of promoting rail as an attractive mode of transport in view of the EU’s ambitious climate goals, the European Commission announced its proposal to make 2021 the European Year of Rail. Recently the European Parliament and the Council reached a provisional agreement, subject to final approval by the European Parliament, but putting next year on the right track to become EYR. The ETF welcomes the initiative, which will underline the key role of rail in implementing the European Green Deal. However, if it’s to truly succeed then the focus must also be on the railway workers who enable the smooth running of the sector.

Only the commitment of employees made it possible to maintain passenger and freight transport services during the peak of the pandemic, and they continue to carry out their services making sure that essential goods and medial personnel reach their destinations.

These same workers will allow the railway sector to play its critical role as the backbone of sustainable mobility, and this requires clear political commitment to boosting rail through proper funding and investments, a fair level playing field between all transport modes, and a sector free from social dumping with quality working conditions.

This also means increasing the attractiveness of the rail sector as an employer, attracting more women and young workers by ensuring quality and improvement of working conditions, respecting the rights of railway workers, ensuring their health and safety and eliminating wage and social dumping. This is crucial to ensure the resilience, economic sustainability and social utility of railways.

That’s why the ETF calls for a European Year of Railway Workers. A year that not only focusses on how rail can best contribute to Europe’s climate neutrality but also on improving the working conditions for railway workers without which the industry would cease to function.

In its position paper, the ETF sets out key principles for success and to make 2021 the European Year of Railway Workers in cooperation with the trade unions representing them.

The paper revolves around two key concepts:

  • Safe, fair and quality working conditions and the strengthening of Social Dialogue with employers at national and European level – to attract women and young workers to the profession, for fair working conditions to persist in a time of digitalisation and automation, ensure just transition and protection against the violation of workers’ rights.
  • Measures to boost rail freight and passenger transport – giving priority to the quality of services rather than the reduction of personnel costs, eliminating social dumping between transport sectors and the social shortcomings in railways for a modal shift.

ETF’s Proposals for a Successful Year of Rail 2021 can be downloaded at your right.