ETF – ETUI seminar “Sustainable transport days” - 10-12 march 2021

Introduction of Frank Moreels, President of ETF, to this seminar.


Brothers and sisters,
ladies and gentlemen,
welcome to the seminar “Sustainable transport days”.

When I look at the program of the seminar, the following three days promise to be very interesting. We can already be happy about the number of people registered for the seminar,
150 women and men will attend this seminar the coming days.

I really hope that the coming days will give us the opportunity to debate
and look at many crucial issues for transport workers.

Crucial issues such as - the evolution of working conditions in the transport industry
Or social dumping, which still is a real plague in the industry, most certainly in road transport, but also in inland navigation, and other sectors. And yes, we really hope that the mobility package will help us in the fight against this plague. And yes we hope that the ELA, the European Labour Authority will help us to block this cancer. But we must know that our work is never finished. The ink of the mobility package was not even dry when nine countries, including, and I am ashamed to admit it, my own country Belgium, announced to open a procedure against different items of the package. By joining Malta, my own country is going against the cabotage regulation, undermining the compromise we all accepted with the mobility package. I was happy to note yesterday that Denmark and Sweden however will join the EU in defending the Mobility Package. However this is a good illustration of the fact that the battle is never won, and that we have to stay vigilant.

We will talk about the ecological challenges the transport sector and it’s workers face. And let me be very clear about this one: a sustainable and green transport sector goes hand in hand with a more social transport sector where workers have rights, decent salaries, good and safe working conditions, … Sustainability will be social, or will not be.

Many more issues are on our plate! For instance, the challenges coming from new business models. And saying this, we all know that Uber, Deliveroo, Amazon, … are trying to impose their business model in the transport sector, to the whole of the transport sector. We all know that the so called innovation they try to sell us goes together with a lack of respect for the workers, that they even do not recognize as their own staff. No longer ago than yesterday I saw an advert of Uber Eats, pretending that their drivers (and I quote) “are basically the CEO of their company”. Well, from time to time I talk with riders working for Uber Eats in Brussels. I can assure you that they do not consider themselves as CEO but rather as hard working staff, that are denied the basic rights that every staff member should have.

 All these items will have our attention the coming days, and will be discussed.

We are at a crucial moment for Europe, for transport and for the ETF. So this event comes in the right time.

The EU is at a crossroad. There was an agreement on starting the conference on the future of Europe in May.
We have to fight to make this the occasion where these changes that the working people need, are made.

The Covid crisis has confirmed what the flaws of the EU are and why we need to rebuild a social Europe, which we have been missing for too long. When we have beaten this virus, this terrible pandemic, we will not go back to normal!
Because the normal we knew before is not the normal we want. It is not the normal that transport workers expect.
We will seize the occasion to build a new normal that is better than before.

A huge work needs to be done, also beyond the EU borders, to tackle the climate crisis and fight for just transition in the framework of the ecological and digital challenges.

At the same time, the ETF is undergoing a major change and we are getting ready for our next congress, where we want to deliver an organisation that is stronger and more efficient than ever before.

I would like to open this seminar by giving a special mention to Livia Spera, our acting General Secretary, and the ETF team. They are dynamic, they are a real, strong team! They have the ambition to have our voice heard.
They have the ambition to have the expectations of the transport workers taken into account, by the European Commission, by the Parliament, by national governments, by stakeholders in the transport industry. But most certainly, they have the ambition to give a voice to the hard working people in the transport sector.
The people who make the prosperity of the sector.
The workers and their unions!

 We are determined to be at the forefront of the debates, to shape the future for our workers and for our sectors and the discussions we are starting today are instrumental to this.

I call for all participants to be active. There will be plenty of opportunities to interact and ask questions. For the first two panels today we want to set the scene and therefore we have planned only interaction between the speakers and the moderator, but in the coming three days there will be plenty of space for debate.

We are at a critical moment to shape the future, and we are determined to shape the future of transport.
Because in shaping the future, we as ETF can at the same time make sure that the interests of the transport workers are taken care of.

I would like to thank ETUI for the opportunity to organize this seminar and the European Commission for the financial support there are giving us. The money is well spent…

But most of all, we are very happy to have high-level speakers today and in the coming days.
I look forward to their contributions.
And please, do not hesitate to a bit provocative.
We are ready for real debate, we are ready for real discussion.
We hope to have a constructive dialogue with institutions and employers.

Thank you all for being with us the coming days.
And do not forget, take care!

Frank Moreels
President of ETF