ETF at the Tripartite Social Summit

21 Mar 2024

On March 20th 2024, General Secretary of the ETF Livia Spera spoke at the Tripartite Social Summit on behalf of European Transport Workers. Full speech below:



When we analyse the state and the effects of the internal market, we need to be factual. This is what we expect also from the report that Enrico Letta is preparing.  

As a matter of fact, in recent years, many workers in Europe have viewed the single market more as a threat than an opportunity. The current design of the market, uniting countries with very diverse living and working conditions but with limited measures to address such disparities, has resulted in unfair situations, exploitation of some, and a lack of opportunities for others. 

Today, there is an urgent need to rectify this unfairness. Concrete measures must be implemented to deter those who exploit the internal market by establishing letter-box companies in countries with lower working conditions and protections while providing services in more economically prosperous countries. This includes discouraging those who flout posting rules or engage in fraudulent employment schemes, thereby perpetrating social security fraud and utilizing fraudulent employment practices. 

The European Union cannot solely prioritize the single market; it must also prioritize supporting those who adhere to the rules. The strategy of opting for internal competition solely based on price, cheaper alternatives and tolerating fraud has not yielded positive outcomes: working conditions and future prospects in certain sectors have significantly deteriorated, leading to high vacancy rates unrelated to skill shortages and resistant to quick fixes, notably focusing on attracting third-country nationals.  

Jobs that are not good enough for EU nationals, are not good enough for third-country nationals neither.  

In this context, austerity policies in all their forms have impeded and will continue to impede the Union’s objectives, which should include: 

  • Implementing an effective industrial policy to generate quality jobs in environmentally friendly and innovative industrial sectors.
  • Establishing a well-funded and efficient public sector that serves both citizens and businesses effectively.
  • Strengthening regulatory and enforcement agencies to combat tax evasion, labour abuses, fraudulent business practices, and to safeguard the rights of mobile and migrant workers.
  • Investing in public transportation to alleviate transport poverty and promote environmentally sustainable modes of transportation for both passengers and freight.
  • Developing a just transition legal framework that guarantees the right to training and retraining, grounded in robust models of workplace democracy.

Linking public procurement to collective bargaining, imposing conditions tied to collective bargaining and compliance with labour laws for state aid, subsidies, and other forms of public support, would undoubtedly aid in achieving the agreed-upon target of 80% collective bargaining coverage, particularly in regions of Europe where coverage is notably lacking. 

The digital and green transitions, coupled with labour shortages, are causing significant disruptions across all sectors, from services to manufacturing, necessitating structural changes. With EU elections on the horizon, it is imperative to commit to actions that transform the EU into a project that truly serves its workers, starting from a common funding instrument.