On Tuesday 2 December 2014, the European Sectoral Social Partners (ESSP) for Maritime Transport, ETF and ECSA, took part in a mini-hearing at the European Parliament on invitation of rapporteur Ms Morin-Chartier (EPP, FR), to exchange views with all relevant stakeholders on the Commission proposal for a directive on seafarers. At that occasion, the ESSP were asked to present their recently achieved Social Partners’ Agreement (SPA) on the issue of exclusion of seafarers to the members of the EMPL Committee (Employment and Social Affairs). The ESSP’s contribution was very much welcomed and MEPs committed to give it their full attention in preparation of their draft report on the matter.
Although EU labour law generally applies to all workers in all sectors, based on the particular nature of maritime transport Member States were allowed to exempt seafarers from certain Directives. This situation risks to open the way to a differentiation of treatment of seafarers compared to their land-based counterparts. Therefore, the European Commission issued in November last year a legislative proposal, aiming to review five directives from the scope of which seafarers could be excluded up to now. However, the text created some confusion and failed to solve social partners’ concerns. In order to move forward, the ESSP took the initiative to explore common grounds and work towards an SPA.
The social partners’ spokespersons in the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee, namely Mark Dickinson (ETF) and his counterpart Ms Pia Voss (ECSA) presented their Agreement which takes the form of a package deal covering all relevant Directives, i.e. Employer Insolvency, European Works’ Councils, Information and Consultation, Collective Redundancies and Transfer of Undertakings. Both organisations consider the SPA as a mean to facilitate the European Parliament’s and Council’s work towards a swift and smooth completion of the legislative process.
At the end of his presentation, Mark Dickinson expressed ETF’s conviction that, once adopted, the revised legislation would help ensure the full enjoyment of seafarers’ right to information and consultation within the undertaking and their right to fair and just working conditions. The members of the EMPL Committee applauded the ESSP’s contribution to the debate and Rapporteur E. Morin-Chartier confirmed it would be taken into careful consideration when preparing her draft report for the Committee, to be presented in January 2015. Referring to the report by Ms Ronzulli, which was overturned by the EMPL Committee earlier this year, Ms Morin-Chartier stressed that this time failure was not an option. Concluding the hearing, she pointed out her determination to end a discriminatory regime which deprives seafarers from social and labour rights recognised under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.