Social conditions in urban public transport companies in Europe

22 Sep 2015

The development of working conditions in the urban public transport sector is a permanent subject for discussion between employers and trade unions in urban public transport (UPT). Very important is the question whether competition and privatisation – in the form of competitive tendering – have a negative effect on working conditions, and therefore need regulatory intervention.

ETF and UITP have different views on the impact of deregulation of Europe’s urban public transport market. More specifically, ETF believes that competitive tendering of urban public transport services invites a race to the bottom of working conditions on the lowest price principle. We favour the direct award of public service contracts and demand compulsory social protection and transfer of staff if authorities chose a competition-based approach. The UITP, on the other hands, rather points to the lack of financial support and stability for UPT companies and denies a direct link between the awarding procedure and the development of working conditions.

In order to better understand the situation in Europe, UITP and ETF decided in 2015 to carry out a joint study on working conditions in UPT companies in Europe.

The joint study gives comprehensive information on how the UPT sector is organised in different European countries, including the legal framework underpinning market organization. It gather sinformation on how employment conditions are regulated and the role of collective bargaining agreements (national, sector, regional or company level). It also seeks to chart to what extent social conditions have changed over the past 10 years by exploring national examples of UPT operators. Particular focus was placed on trends in employment levels, the structure of collective bargaining and social dialogue, and the influence of legislation and collective bargaining on salaries and working conditions.

Within this context, particular attention was given to examples of change of operator in order to understand whether Regulation 1370/2007 has played a role with regard to requiring bidders to meet certain social conditions and/or the transfer of staff and to analyse the impact for individuals active in the sector and their working conditions.

The detailed annex with more detailed country reports for 12 countries is particularly useful.