European Commission’s action plan to boost EU inland waterway transport could also boost workers’ rights

28 Jun 2021

Last week, the European Commission released an action plan to boost transport on the EU’s inland waterways: NAIADES III: Boosting future-proof European inland waterway transport.

The ETF welcomes the action plan, which identifies that due to the cross-border nature of many work contracts in the sector, there is a need to evaluate the legal framework for the inland waterway transport sector. In particular:

  • Enforcement of the working time rules – the Commission rightly recognises that the sector needs a reliable, real-time, digital controlling capacity. Such digital tools could also be used to verify compliance with Directive 2014/112/EU, which establishes working time arrangements for inland waterway transport employees.
  • Legislation on social security and posting
  • Actual implementation of rules by member states

The Commission highlights the fundamental importance of ensuring a genuine link between the owner/operator of the company and workers’ rights – a significant step forward for the ETF.

Over the years, ETF ‘s members have witnessed river cruise companies taking advantage of the EU single market rules to hire workers from countries with limited economic opportunities to minimise wage costs and wages. thereby not reflecting the hardships of the work onboard a cruise vessel. The ETF has raised many concerns about the situation of employees working on a river cruise vessel sailing on the Rhine or Danube and employed by a company registered in Malta or Cyprus, bearing in mind that these two countries do not have any navigable rivers. Therefore no river cruises are proposed in these countries. This questionable practice goes hand in hand with a lower level of social security for the workers.

We now expect adequate and coherent follow-up from the European Commission and Member States. It’s imperative to act swiftly and clarify the legal situation: which legislation applies, which rights employees enjoy, and which protection can employees expect.