It might seem odd that trade unions and employers in Europe’s rail sector would come together and make a statement about an EU reform of road transport. But the EU’s Mobility Package is not a normal set of reforms. This is a major redesign of the rules that govern road transport in Europe, which will not only affect road workers and users – other transport sectors could also feel the impact.
That why the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Companies (CER) have lauched a joint statement. Of course, the social partners for rail want road transport workers to enjoy decent social protections and conditions. However, this is not just a statement of support.
Road transport is a major competitor for the railways. That means that any worsening of terms and conditions for road workers could distort competition between the sectors, which both try to get business from passengers and freight. By making road transport cheaper and more flexible, policymakers could encourage passengers and freight off the rails and onto the roads – exactly the opposite shift from what our climate and sustainability goals require!
“Without decent working conditions in all transport sectors, there cannot be fair intermodal competition. In view of the proposed Mobility Package, and in particular the modifications to Regulation (EC) no 561/2006 with regards to driving time, rest periods and breaks, the social partners in the rail sector express great concern that the balance between transport modes regarding working time conditions for mobile workers will be further disrupted.”
ETF and CER also stress the need for safe and fair conditions for workers in all sectors, saying that they “share the concern of e.g. the ETSC (European Transport Safety Council) regarding operational safety as well as the concern regarding drivers’ dignity when living on the road within their lorries.”