ETF calls for social deployment of EU recovery budget in bus and coach

18 Jun 2020

On June 17, the ETF wrote to the EU Commissioner for Transport, to Members of the European Parliament and to the Member States to call for a social deployment of the EU recovery budget in bus and coach transport in Europe.

The Covid-19 lockdown cut deep into road passenger transport. Tourist coach operations, long-distance international trips and special domestic services such as school transport were completely shut down over the past three months.

EU member states and the European Commission are ready to mobilise funds to revive the sector. There will be loans and grants given to bus and coach operators which means that our drivers will soon return to work. However, there is a shortage of skilled drivers, and most of them are over 50 years of age. In some Member States – we are told – the annual retirement rate among bus and coach drivers can reach 10 to 15%.

Unfriendly work schedules, inadequate rest conditions, weekends away from home and poor levels of pay fail to meet the expectations of today’s job seekers. For all these reasons and more, young people think twice before choosing to work in road passenger transport.

Investing the EU money in a socially and economically sustainable way is key to re-building a modern road passenger sector, that meets the expectations of today’s workforce in terms of quality of life and work.

EU financial loans and grants made available under the EU recovery facility must be allocated to those bus and coach operators who have had a clean law-compliance record and who:

  1. Commit to complying with all national and EU laws applicable to the sector – among others, have genuine establishments, meet their obligations towards their personnel by remunerating and paying social contributions in line with the applicable law, organise work schedules within the working, driving and rest times limits set by law
  2. Engage in social dialogue with their respective social partners nationally, to maintain and improve social and safety standards in the industry
  3. When subcontracting, to carry it out on terms and conditions that guarantee that subcontractors will operate in full compliance with national and EU laws applicable to the sector – this will contribute to setting a level playing field and a compliance culture across the sector, and will give small and medium operators room to operate in a fair and secure environment
  4. Have not paid dividends to shareholders once the lockdown measures were announced by the Member State of establishment

The EU must ensure that future road passenger transport provides a stable climate for people and businesses, and safe journeys for passengers and drivers. We believe that the above criteria will amply contribute to reaching this goal. The ETF urges the European Commission to include the above among the criteria used to assess the recovery plans and programmes submitted for funding by the Member States. Additionally, these plans will include job retention schemes to ensure a swift restart of the bus and coach service across Europe.