Social dialogue refers to structured discussion between the organisations which represent workers and employers, known as social partners. The EU supports social dialogue at European level, and the ETF is the recognised social partner for the railway sector representing railway workers.
Together with the railway employers, who are represented by the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) and European Rail Infrastructure Managers (EIM), we take part in the activities of the Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee for Railways. This is how we ensure that workers’ interests in all areas in the rail sector are considered – be it in passenger transport, freight transport, or workers responsible for operation of rail infrastructure.
Our common goal is to make sure that Europe implements a Single European Railway Area where workers enjoy decent working conditions and where their social rights are respected. Social dialogue provides us with an opportunity to negotiate with the employers and conclude agreements valid on European level. At the same time, through social dialogue and the consultation obligations of the European Commission, we are able to react to new developments in the railway sector and exchange views on current challenges with all parties concerned.
Social dialogue is an instrument that helps us to:
There are several hot topics we have been tackling through social dialogue. The main areas of our work are those designated in the current work programme for 2018-2019, mainly:
Within the framework of social dialogue, we pursue our work on the topics mentioned above in a variety of ways; through projects we run together with our social partners; by developing joint recommendations and agreements; or by participating in joint working groups.
Railway social partners and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) gathered with ETF for the annual plenary meeting of the Rail Sectoral Social Dialogue. Social partners negotiated their joint work programme for the next two years and agreed to focus on women’s employment and equal opportunities in the railway sector, ensuring railway safety in an open and competitive market, working and resting time rules, and employability in the light of digitalisation and automation.
Women account for less than 20% of the railway workforce, a figure that is alarmingly below the 46% participation rate of women in the labour market. Railway companies and trade unions are convinced that the situation needs to change in order to avoid missing out on the valuable contribution of women, to promote diversity at the workplace, and eventually harmonise the railway sector’s image with the reality of the society in which rail customers live.
Social partners ETF and CER have given a green light for the start of negotiations on an autonomous agreement about women in rail. Meeting at the Rail Social Dialogue Steering Committee, the two organisations also discussed working conditions for mobile workers engaged in cross-border rail services.