Fair recovery: only if we reform transport policies!

10 Sep 2020

ETF calls on EU policymakers for immediate action to ensure quality social dialogue and social coherence across all transport policies

Taking the floor at a panel discussion at ETUC’s annual European Works Council conference, alongside Nicolas Schmit, EU Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights and Ana Mendes Godhino, Portuguese Labour Minister, Livia Spera, General Secretary of European Transport Workers’ Federation denounced the many transport companies taking advantage of the crisis to lower working terms and conditions and disrespecting social dialogue and consultation rights at all levels.

The COVID-19 crisis has hit the transport sector hard and there is a clear need for public support for recovery. However, what we are witnessing is yet another missed opportunity to change the sector. ETF’s request to attach social conditionality to any kind of public support going to transport companies, as well as transport projects, has not been taken on board. This means business as usual, with many companies benefiting from public money and yet imposing disproportionate restructuring plans.

ETF has been the first to step up and support affiliates in their fights for justice as they have faced restructuring planned by British Airways, Aer Lingus, P&O Ferries, Avia Partner, Swissport, EasyJet… among others.

Improving and enforcing rules on information and consultation is certainly a priority, but this has to be done in parallel with reforming the policies that, for the last decades have not allowed any social progress. On the contrary, they have allowed and tolerated dubious business models and social dumping.

Social dialogue and policy change are not only key in making sure workers’ rights are protected.  They are also crucial if we are to face the challenges of automation and digitalisation, and climate change. These transitions will heavily affect transport:

“We need to talk about reskilling, but without proper social dialogue, this will never take place! We need to move from the theoretical, and look at the reality of the transport sector to see how fair transition towards all these changes can actually be supported”, urged Livia Spera.

And indeed, when social dialogue does not work and if a new social pact is not possible, unions will uphold their duty and fight for social justice.