12th FILT CGIL National Congress in Catania

Below you will find the speech that Frank Moreels gave as ETF President at the 12th FILT CGIL National Congress in Catania on the 15th of February 2023.


Cari compagni e care compagne,

First of all I would like to thank you for inviting me
to speak at your congress.
It is an honour for me – as ETF president – to address this congress.
Because FILT-CGIL is a very important partner
within the European Transport Workers’ Federation.

Under the strong leadership of Stefano Malorgio
your union is one of the key unions in our federation.
There is a very strong commitment of FILT-CGIL
in all sectors in which your union is active,
and I hope this will set an example for other unions all over Europe.
We can only encourage this.
ETF needs more active and engaging unions
Like yours!

And it is true,
the interests of our affiliates in the transport sector
cannot be served
by a union being active
only on a national level.

And my friend Stefano,
your General-Secretary,
so clearly understands this.
The jobs in aviation, in road transport, in the maritime sector, in rail ...
have an international character.
Their work doesn’t stop at the border.
Therefor union work can not stop at the border neither.

Brothers and sisters,
our European federation,
Your European federation represents more than 5 million workers of more than 200 unions in 38 European countries
And together we are stronger to launch
a strong and clear message to
the European Parliament,
the European Commission,
the European council and all the national governments, all over Europe.

What we want for Europe is a social pact for fair transport,
in which people are the most important
not profits.
We need this social pact because,
although transport work has been defined as an essential profession,
the working conditions in the transport sector could be much better.
During the covid pandemic,
the world depended on transport workers to keep society going:
bus, train and truck drivers, logistics staff, …
they were essential and were paid respect.
Nowadays all the respect seems to be gone.
So let’s give a big round of applause for all those transport workers!

And if you ask me what the three priorities of this transport pact should be,
I would say that first of all we have to stop deregulation in Europe,
starting with better control and enforcement of existing rules
and, when needed, going for better rules.
Is it normal that our friends of 3F in Denmark
discovered a camp where 200 Filipino drivers
lived in extremely bad circumstances,
being exploited by the companies they worked for?
Is it normal that P&O sacked 800 seamen
by a simple video message and
replaced them the same day by cheap workforce?
So, the second priority should be the abolishment of precarious jobs
and the fight against social dumping.
And our third priority should be to guarantee a basis of social rights
and improved working conditions for all workers in the transport sector.
Through reinforced collective bargaining
all transport workers, all workers
should earn a decent living to support their families and pay their bills.


Brothers and sisters,
your union understood the importance of logistics
as a crucial battlefield for the unions of the transport sector.

When we look for example at Amazon.
A company that spread its wings all over the world
and in a very short time became active all over Europe.
The Italian unions did a pioneers’ job
by signing an agreement
that is quite impressive.
You have chosen the path of being very critical
towards this e-commerce giant,
but at the same time of building social dialogue.
A very precise, but also a very concrete strategy
by signing cba’s with Amazon.

Now that Amazon has also “landed” in Belgium,
my union BTB is trying to follow your example.
More or less the same as we did with Uber in Belgium.
Opening the door for social dialogue,
without giving up the relentless fight
to defend workers’ rights.

And yes, we have to develop ETF strategies to tackle the challenges
in the logistic sector.
That is also what we decided
at our ETF congress in Budapest last year.
In the ETF work program
the chapter “The Future of Transport & Transport Work”
an important topic is logistics and e-Commerce.
Because the ETF aims at becoming a knowledgeable
and recognised European leader on this topic
and at developing capacities to tackle exploitation throughout the supply-chain.
So by signing the cba’s with Amazon your union has already taken a big step forward.

Brothers and sisters,
I want to share with you
A very big concern.
It is the growth of far right and populism all over Europe.
Livia Spera, our Secretary General,
and myself, we were present at two important manifestations in your recent history.
I was in Rome on the 16th of October 2021
and Livia spoke on the 8th of October of last year
during your mass demonstrations against the rise of far right.
Against the raid of the fascist mob
attacking your headquarters.
Far-Right is back!
And has become more and more arrogant and influential.
Referring again to the ETF congress in Budapest.
It was decided there and then that ETF would launch an action plan against the Far-Right. Extreme right is gaining more and more power in Europe.
In different countries in Europe
Far-Right political parties try to clean up their image
and succeed in becoming part of the government.
Also in Italy.
Far-Right pretending to defend the workers’ rights,
but we know better.
History learns us that once fascists have the power to do so
they attack workers’ rights,
and they attack their unions.
They have to be stopped.
We have to keep informing the workers of the dangers of extreme right,
especially with the European elections coming up next year.
We have to do everything we can to avoid people
from casting of vote for Far-Right out of dismay.
We have to raise awareness that there are other alternatives,
Our alternatives!
But therefor we have to be active,
take initiatives.
And as I already said,
I am sure that we can count on FILT-CGIL
to work together to turn these initiatives into a success.
That’s why, today, I’m wearing this red triangle on my vest.
The symbol of the fight against fascism, racism and division.
That’s also why ETF is pleading for the 8th of May,
the day that Nazi-Germany was defeated in 1945,
to be a European holiday.
And that’s why we have to stand strong
together, and say

“Ascoltalte il lavoro!” Listen to the labour.
My friends, may I ask you to applaud for this slogan?

Brothers and sisters,
In this conference room,
I do not only see FILT-CGIL colleagues.
I also see colleagues of other Italian and foreign unions.
We all have our different traditions,
our different strategies and working tactics,
but we all want the same thing:
to enhance the working conditions of the workers.
Therefor we have to work together, find a consensus.

We have to make the transport sector a better and safer working environment for all workers, men and women.
Because it is clear that for the moment transport is not a very women-friendly sector.
This also has to change.
Let’s open the doors and windows of our transport sector for women and youth.
Let’s open the doors of our own organisations for women and youth.
Let’s stop macho behaviour at the workplace.
Let’s create a friendly and save environment for women and men!

And then of course,
last but certainly not least there is the matter of sustainability and the environment.
No one can deny any longer that we are facing a huge climate crisis.
The world is warming up and the earth is showing us what the effects are:
extreme drought interspersed with flooding, forest fires, …
Measures have to be taken,
also in our industries!
But it cannot be the transport workers who pay the bill for this change.
We are not prepared to let transport workers pick up the tap for more sustainability.
Those who made money by polluting have to be interpellated now!
They should pay, not us!
Employers have to invest more in innovation.
Those who make the big profits will have to take their responsibility.
And of course sustainability and socio-politics go hand in hand.
We will never be able to reach modal shift, and thus more sustainability,
without talking about the social aspect
and decent wages instead of organising social dumping.
Let’s look at the climate crisis as an opportunity to change things.
Promote greener mobility,
promote public transport and the modal shift.
But this is only possible when the big profit makers are also willing to invest in jobs and in infrastructure.
So you see, a lot of work on our plate to make the future of transport and of transport workers better.

My dear friends of FILT-CGIL,
we union people always have our heads in the clouds,
We dream of a better world for the workers we represent!
But we also have our both feet on the ground.
We work hard every day to realize this dream.
Step by step.
Negotiating when possible,
going into action when necessary!

So my friends,
let’s be aware that we are strong together,
but also weaker when divided.
The choice is ours!
Long live FILT-CGIL, long live the ETF, long live the ITF!
Together we are stronger!
Al lavoro e alla lotta!