Stronger collective agreements and legislation way forward for bus & coach industry

15 Mar 2022

As the sector slowly picks up after the pandemic, the ETF study on “Social Conditions in Bus and Coach Transport in Europe” explores what it needs to become more attractive and recall and retain skilled drivers.

New ETF study

Driver shortage, drivers with an average age of above 50, less and less people willing to work in the sector. Downward pressure due to liberalisation. Employment of third country drivers vulnerable to exploitation. What lies behind these longstanding issues and what’s the way forward?

Major barriers driving workers away

  1. Low wage levels: Bus and coach drivers are compelled to work long hours to make a living. Work-related tasks are often not registered as working time thus drivers are paid for less hours than they actually work
  2. Poor work-life balance: Long work schedules and long periods away from home – the latter particularly in occasional international operations – are disruptive for family and social life, and fail to correspond to modern-day lifestyle and expectations
  3. Unpredictable shifts and poor work organisation: Irregular and unpredictable working schedules, late announcements on shifts have a negative impact on drivers’ private, social and family life, and on duration and quality of rest

Fixing the sector

ETF puts forward solutions:

  • Stronger legislation to counterbalance the industry’s predisposition to cost-cutting and exploitation of third-country nationals.
  • Strong and broad coverage of collective labour agreements to guarantee:

– Better levels of pay

– Working conditions

– Access to benefits

Policy recommendations

The policy recommendations championed by the ETF to tackle the sector’s problems include:

For the European Commission: refrain from revising driving and rest time rules for bus and coach – this will only bring down an already deteriorating sector.

For EU Member States: investment in enforcement and control capacities as well as a sound national legal base for broad collective bargaining coverage in the sector.

Moreover, in addition to this study on Bus & Coach, the ETF study on driver fatigue provides key insight into how to improve the sector – both studies should be placed at the core of all future policy initiatives.

There is no future for bus and coach across Europe without its drivers – it’s time for a change in the right direction!