Fair rewards for all in a booming industry!

4 Apr 2017

ETF launches its 2017 campaign for fair pay and working conditions for all workers in the river cruise sector

Europe’s position as a dynamic hub at the core of the global river cruise industry is reaffirmed year after year.  In the EU alone 335 vessels sail with a total capacity of 48,844 beds and the sector keeps on growing.  New vessels are introduced year for year: 27 in 2015, 20 in 2016 and 18 deliveries are due in 2017 reinforcing the European river cruise industry’s worldwide number 1 position.

Alongside the spectacular growth of the sector we also note a spectacular increase in competition between the various river cruise operators leading in turn to cost-cutting which leads in turn to:

•  Less personnel serving more passengers
•  Overcrowding of crew cabins with up to three crew members sharing one small cabin
•  Harder work and longer hours
•  Different wages for the same job depending on the worker’s nationality or country of residence
•  A lack of medical and other social security provisions.

The crew members, whether nautical or from the hospitality branch, aren’t experiencing qualitative improvement.  “They are often confronted with uncertainty about wages and working conditions as river cruise companies continue with the trend of relocation of their head offices to those states – or even districts within states – where quick wins are realised by identifying and exploiting the cheapest social security systems”, the President of the ETF Inland Waterways Section, Nick Bramley said. “The end result is insufficient coverage when crewmembers fall ill, or want to retire.”

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) – the European arm of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) – is continuing with its campaign for decent living and working conditions and against unfair competition based on social dumping in this highly successful and profitable business.  April 5th sees the kick-off of the 2017 campaign in Amsterdam, the hub of the European river cruise industry where over 50% of all port calls occur.

What do we want for the crewmembers?:

•  Clear – and written – legally enforceable individual contracts of employment in a language crew members can understand.
•  A minimum net wage of 800€ (after all stoppages) paid regularly and in full.
•  Travel expenses to and from the ship (including return tickets to Europe) at the season’s beginning and end to be paid in full by the employer.
•  Social security contributions and provisions in accord with European agreements for inland waterway employees, i.e. those of the state where the economic control of the ship is situated.
•  Fair and non-discriminatory accident, health and sickness insurance coverage. Every crew member in need of medical care to be given access to medical facilities on shore.
•  Crew members to be housed in clean and comfortable cabins with no more than 2 persons per cabin. Ideally not more than 4 people should share a shower or a toilet.
•  Healthy, varied and sufficient food for all crew members – free of charge during the period of engagement.
•  The crew’s working and resting hours, which are now regulated via the new European Directive on working time for Inland Waterways workers, need to be controlled and enforced.
•  Visa and work permits for non-EU citizens according to the state where the economic control of the ship is located, complying with conditions where the ship operates, i.e. local minimum wages.•  Approved training to be provided during working time at the employer’s expense.
•  The employer must provide adequate health and safety equipment and personal protection gear.
•  Personal effects to be ensured by the employer for a minimum value of €4,000.
 Non-discrimination on the grounds of gender, religion, race, colour, nationality, social origin, political opinion or sexual orientation is to be guaranteed at all times.

From 5th April 2017 onwards concerted ship visits will take place in various cities in Belgium, Netherlands, France, Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Bulgaria in order to reach out to crewmembers.  The campaign stretches out throughout the entire 2017 season, but this intensified action week is to kick start the 2017 campaign.

For further information, please contact the ETF Political Secretary for Inland Waterways – Myriam Chaffart (m.chaffart@etf-europe.org, phone: +32 (0)2 285 4664, +32 (0)475 343651)