The ETF welcomes the publication of the proposed targeted contingency measures in the absence of an agreement with the United Kingdom on a future partnership, put forward by the European Commission last week. As we believe that transport workers’ wellbeing needs to be protected in any scenario, we’d like to point to some concerns in road transport and civil aviation that cannot be overlooked in contingency plans.
Road Transport | Waiting time at borders must not become another source of fatigue
We are happy to observe that the proposed regulation on road freight connectivity and road passenger transport is subject to the application of social rules in giving access to UK registered road operators, post-Brexit, to the EU bus, coach and haulage market.
When it comes to practicalities, however, the human elements are missing, and further clarifications are needed, through complementary control and compliance measures.
It is becoming apparent that border queues will not be avoided and to this end, the ETF and its affiliated organisations must stress as follows:
The ETF has recently published hard evidence on fatigue in road passenger and goods transport. 2800 bus, coach and truck drivers identified 11 top causes for fatigue, most of them relating to poor rest conditions. We must prevent additional sources of cumulated fatigue on EU and UK roads.
CIVIL AVIATION | Level playing field must be protected to prevent a race to the bottom
Similarly, and while we understand that the UK will be able to cooperate with EASA like other third-country partners, control of and compliance with flight time limitations and rest times is an issue of utmost importance.
The transport sector has faced unprecedented challenges brought about by COVID-19 pandemic. Many transport workers have lost their jobs, have fallen through the cracks of social safety nets or face other uncertainties. We fear that a no deal Brexit, in these circumstances, would add to their misery. We are also anxious about the dangers of a bare-bone deal that does not contain solid commitments to respect the level playing field to prevent a race to the bottom.
Precarious work, atypical contracts, bogus self-employment, inappropriate use of temporary work agencies, zero-hours contracts, abuse of third-country nationals, and other forms of social dumping are practices used by companies throughout all sectors. With them, companies aim to circumvent social security obligations, deny workers fair wages, social protection, and to treat them like cheap commodities. In case there are no provisions requiring both parties not to adopt or maintain any measure that weakens or reduces the level of labour rights and social protection below the level provided by the end of the transition period, continued engagement on social matters with the UK would be welcomed, given the proximity and close relationship between the UK and EU. Dialogue should be ensured in order to maintain equal standards of work, and fair competition and trade unions should play a part in the process.
The ETF is committed to working with other stakeholders to achieve the highest standards on workers’ rights for workers in the EU and the UK, and preventing a race to the bottom. All workers in the UK and the EU must be protected from the social dumping and lack of protections that could materialise in the event of a no deal Brexit.