Truck, bus and coach drivers descend on Strasbourg to demand that MEPs vote for better wages, working conditions and rest

29 May 2018

290518_Road ETF DemonstrationHundreds of professional drivers and union activists are on their way to Strasbourg, France, to make their voice heard on the EU Mobility Package. More than 3 000 000 EU citizens work in bus, coach and lorry transport, and the EU has launched a reform of their wage levels, driving time and rest periods. The decisions will have a major impact on road safety and drivers’ working conditions.

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) is calling on the European Parliament to vote for better, fairer, safer conditions! On Tuesday 29 May, from 12.30 to 15.00 in Strasbourg drivers will demonstrate in front of the European Parliament. MEPs from all political groups have been invited to address the participants and to listen to our drivers’ stories.

Industry voices are calling for a major flexibilisation of the sector, with longer hours and a block on fair pay. However, drivers and their unions already scored a victory on 26 April when the Parliament’s Employment Committee voted for: a total ban on weekly rest periods spent in the vehicles; 3 days off every 2 weeks of driving; extremely sound provisions to ensure the drivers return home regularly. The EMPL Committee also voted to end wage discrimination between drivers performing international transport and cabotage.

This demonstration will show the strength of our demands and encourage MEPs to keep supporting our positions as the Mobility Package is finalised. On 4 June it is the turn of the European Parliament’s Transport Committee to cast its vote on driving and rest time, and on wages for international drivers.

Frank Moreels, ETF President, was clear. “The Transport Committee must deliver the same positive result as the Employment Committee. The ETF and the workers we represent will accept nothing less! Otherwise drivers are facing more work and less rest, with lower pay at the end of the day. Some MEPS are currently promoting compromises that would undermine the progress in the Employment Committee. To avoid the risk that these proposals get adopted, the ETF is demanding the total rejection of the respective reports.”

Eduardo Chagas, ETF General Secretary, added that “some in the Transport Committee want to introduce a new regime for truck drivers: 3 weeks of continuous driving with only 2 days off. The current rules allow drivers have 3 days off every 2 weeks of work. These proposals are an attack on drivers’ lives and working conditions, and on the safety of all road users!”

Roberto Parrillo, President of the ETF Road Transport Section, stressed the importance of the issue. “Look at the press reports for Belgium. In the first 5 months of 2018, between 1 and 3 accidents involving trucks, buses and coaches happened every week! In 2016 in Belgium the average number of accidents involving trucks was of 6 per day – a total of 2055 for the year. Is this not enough? Fatigue is a major cause of road accidents, so should we really consider making rules more flexible just to please business? The Transport Committee vote will be crucial. Do MEPs want better – or worse –  working lives and road safety for Europeans?”

For more information and interviews with workers and union activists contact: 

Cristina Tilling, European Transport Workers’ Federation

Political Secretary for Road Transport

+0032 478 55 81 35

Bryn Watkins, European Transport Workers’ Federation

Communications Officer

+32 470 93 05 90

Background Information

The EU Mobility Package is a total reform of the rules governing road transport and freight in Europe. A bad reform could have a disastrous impact on road safety and the working conditions of professional drivers for the next decades.

There are risks on many fronts:

● Less rest -> danger of fatigue

● Low pay -> exploitation and social dumping

● Weekends sleeping in vehicles -> shocking conditions and poor rest

● More cabotage -> unfair competition

After initial proposals from the Commission, the Package is currently under debate in the European Parliament. Despite fierce lobbying by pro-liberalisation industry voices, on 25 April the Employment Committee voted to support union demands. But there is still a key vote in the Transport Committee on 4 June and ratification by the whole Parliament. Meanwhile member states debate their view in the EU Council.

Workers representatives have been campaigning for a fair Mobility Package since 2016, often supported by partner organisations in the realm of road safety. Read more on the ETF Road Blog.

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) embraces transport trade unions from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Central and Eastern European countries. The ETF represents more than 5 million transport workers from more than 230 transport unions and 42 European countries.

This action forms part of ETF’s growing Fair Transport Europe Campaign. Fair  Transport  is  about  quality  jobs  for  transport  workers,  and  a  safe,  reliable  service  for  customers. European  trade  unions  are  standing  together  to  demand  an  end  to  social  dumping  in  the  transport  sector. Coordinated  actions  by  unions  across  Europe  will  show  the  strength  of  our  movement. That’s the Fair Transport Europe campaign.