Report from the General Secretary December 2014 – May 2015

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A campaign for Fair Transport
The issues of working conditions and social and labour rights in transport have been high on the ETF agenda and in particular following the 2013 Congress. Businesses have been using all possible means to circumvent European legislation aimed at protecting workers’ health and safety, ensuring fair competition and equal treatment in terms of wages and working conditions.

The times are gone when it was common to hear from Commission officials that situations of clear social dumping were just the result of the free movement of workers and the internal market, and that the market would regulate itself. Both the new President of the European Commission and the new Commissioner for Transport have declared their commitment to fight social dumping. A number of MEPs have expressed their will to act with the ETF in order to find concrete proposals for eradicating social dumping from the sector.

The organisation of a major Conference on 4 June called “A social agenda for transport”, jointly by Commissioner Bulc, responsible for Transport and Commissioner Thyssen, in charge of Social Affairs, can be a decisive step towards concrete measures to eradicate all forms of abuse on transport workers’ social and labour rights.

In this context the ETF is launching a Campaign for “Fair Transport Europe” that envisages to eradicate unfair practices, eliminate the loopholes in legislation, ensuring proper implementation of the legal framework and improving the attractiveness of the sector, namely by the harmonisation in progress of the working conditions.
In developing this strategy it is important to highlight that the campaign does not aim at taking a protective approach in the labour market but rather at promoting equal treatment for all workers independently of their country of origin.

To give the campaign a more visible expression, the ETF will submit the request to launch in September a European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) calling on the European Commission to ensure fair competition in the different transport modes, building a common social basis and guaranteeing that the free movement of workers is done in respect of the principle of equal pay and working conditions.

It is important to note that addressing this campaign has the potential to raise concerns among some Eastern European affiliates and their members. The campaign must not be seen as being against Eastern European (or other) workers but rather against the unacceptable practices of some companies which pursue social and wage dumping practices. It is important to stress that social dumping practices do not necessarily involve non-national workers: competition in call for tenders based on the lowest bid often tends to create a downwards spiral in the terms and conditions of the workers involved.
This is common in tenders for public urban transport where the element of non-national work force is not necessarily present.

The Secretariat will naturally do its utmost to mobilise all EU affiliates for this campaign and counts on each of you to successfully campaign for better and fairer living and working conditions in the transport sector.

Eduardo Chagas
ETF General Secretary

“The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.” Confucius (551 BC – 479 BC), The Confucian Analects

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