For 2022, ETF’s main priority in the maritime sector is to have the fundamental social rights of waterborne transport workers recognized, respected and implemented at the EU level

14 Jan 2022

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to have unprecedented consequences on waterborne transport workers. Across the EU, seafarers, port workers, crew members remain mobilized to maintain trade and keep supply chains moving; fishers continue to feed the population, despite the difficulties and obstacles they encounter and the increased risk for exposure to COVID-19 on board ships and other close-contact environments.

This year we urgently call on the EU to ensure a strong commitment to implementing the fundamental social rights of waterborne transport workers. From the ongoing challenge of seafarers, crew members and fishers sometimes being denied emergency medical treatment by port states to the global scandal that is the crew change crisis, waterborne transport workers need proper recognition and a sustainable future.

We will focus on promoting a European Maritime Space for socially sustainable shipping for maritime transport. Europe needs to get serious about protecting its maritime jobs and maritime skills base, reducing transport greenhouse gas emissions, facilitating a modal shift by releasing the potential of short sea shipping connections, and rejuvenating its maritime clusters to benefit the broader European economy.

Economic growth needs to be decoupled from unsustainable practices. Not only shipping companies benefitting from EU law should apply the EU standards to their workers, but companies benefitting from EU state aid should produce quality training and jobs.

We will work towards a comprehensive policy on automation in ports and a socially sustainable approach to technological developments. We really need a deliberate effort in Europe to plan for and invest in a transition to environmentally and socially sustainable jobs. We need in particular policies and programmes for skills development, retraining, and adult education at no cost to maritime workers. Discussion with workers and their unions must be crucial in any policy-making.

We will stress the importance and relevance of inland waterways to address climate change. We will promote a coherent framework at the EU level for creating better jobs and better social protection policies responsive to the crisis through, for example, a manning regulation, new social security rules, and in particular, a social partners’ agreement in river cruise.

Last but not least, we will work in fisheries to better integrate social concerns into the Common Fisheries Policy and in all policies related to fisheries. The European Green Deal (EGD) – through the principles set out in the Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy and the Biodiversity Strategy – offers an opportunity to promote a fair and environmentally friendly food system in the context of the climate and environmental emergency and which does not need to be at the expenses of fish stocks or fishers and coastal communities.