Meeting of the Executive Committee of ETF

The Executive Committee of ETF came together on the 27th and the 28th of November in Brussels.

On the agenda of this meeting amongst other points: the restructuration of ETF, digitalisation and automation in the transport sectors, the priorities of the different sections, the European inspection service ELA, the introduction of a European minimum wage, …

You will find the introduction of Frank Moreels, President of BTB and of ETF, below.


Today, we are 30 months, or two and a half years, after the ETF Barcelona congress.
So we are mid-term between two congresses.
In Barcelona was decided by the affiliates, by you, to go for change.
Not just for the fun of changing the ETF.
but to reshape ETF into an even more performant organisation.

No doubt you will agree with me that we succeeded at last in starting up this change program.
And on some items we already delivered.
And when I say ‘we’, I don’t mean Livia or me, but I mean the whole ETF secretariat together with the affiliates.
Who amongst us could have imagined that we would have been able to accomplish what we did up to now?

Do you remember what challenges we decided to take on in Barcelona?

  • We decided to break down the silo’s between the sections and to realize more cross sectional work. And we did. We succesfully organized the intersectoral Fair Transport 2.0 campaign and organized a panEuropean demonstration in Brussels end of March of this year.
  • Different projects where launched to deal with topics that are cross sectional and that have a great influence on the transport sector.
    The project on the silk road regarding transport between Europe and China.
    Climate change is another important topic we will have to deal with. We all know that the transport sector is generally considered to be amongst the most polluting industries of all. And yes, we need to fight for climate change. But who has to pick up the bill for the measures that have to be taken? Not the transport workers, but those employers who make the most profit by handling our climate carelessly and without any respect.
    Automation and digitalisation are real challenges in all transport sectors. The ETF dockers have already done a great deal of research on this matter and organised conferences. Currently a
    project has been developed to implicate other sections and as such to organize a cross sectional approach.
  • Meanwhile Livia, our new General-Secretary, is reorganizing the ETF secretariat to realize a more horizontal approach, with Josef’s support as Senior Operations Manager. Livia will have the opportunity to tell you all about the new ETF structure later on.
  • We wanted ETF to become more active on the field of campaigning. To focus both on lobbying and campaigning. And we did. I refer again to our Fair Transport Campaign, where during the action year, more than 100 actions were organized all over Europe.
    We were successful in obtaining a decent compromise for the Mobility Package, due to our combined efforts. Although we will have to stay very vigilant about how will be dealt with this package the coming weeks and months. Our campaign focused both on lobbying with politicians on a national and European level, but also not in the least on organizing manifestations in Brussels and in Straatsburg. Once the MP will be finalised, we need to seat down and evaluate our strengths and weaknesses, because this long process made us stronger but at the same time unveiled some problems that we need to fix to become stronger and more effective.
    And I certainly can’t forget to mention the campaign on low cost companies in civil aviation. On the 3rd of December, Livia will be speaking at a hearing organised by the TRAN committee, which will be attended by O’Leary in person. So we will have the chance to voice directly to him our concerns.
  • We all agreed that there was an urgent need for more collaboration between ETF and ITF. Three retreats were organized to bring both ETF and ITF staff together, pushing them to improve the collaboration and communication between them. This already resulted in a different and more open way of working between the staff of both organisations. This extended and improved communication has also been set at top level between both General-Secretaries. We can see that some people in both secretariats are making efforts to work differently together.
  • ETF’s communication strategy also had to be improved. That was also one of the Barcelona decisions. So we did. The new ETF website was launched a few months a go. And if you check the social media of ETF, you will notice that there is a hell of a lot of activity on Facebook and Twitter. Since two new com’s officers were hired this has even boosted.
    There is much more interaction, more direct contact with the affiliates and more responsiveness to the affiliates’ requests.
  • For ETF it is of the utmost importance to grow more strength in Central and Eastern Europe. This is also one of the reasons we organized an Executive Committee in Bucharest last year, to emphasize the importance of the full involvement of the unions in this part of Europe. Soon a joint project ETF/ITF will start up to give full support to unions in Eastern and Central Europe to build more union power.
  • The new General-Secretary, Livia, was elected by you, the Executive Committee of ETF, to guide the change process and to redynamize the ETF. You will all agree with me that she does.

Still we have to be careful not to make too much noise blowing our own trumpet.
There still is a lot of work to be done. A lot of other challenges are waiting for us. There is the still growing threat of populism and (far) right governments, gaining power in more European countries. We will have to continue our fight against governments who don’t have the workers’ rights at heart. And we must be more active in developing answers to workers who are seduced by the hate message spread by far right.

There is still a lot of work to do to develop trade union strategies towards the multinational companies. They do have a European and a global strategy. We must without any doubt be more active in developing workers oriented answers.
Same thing for the platform economy.

And yes, we have to enhance our efforts to organize young workers.
For the moment an ETF survey is running on what the transport sector needs to be more attractive for women. The goal of this survey is to in the end obtain a more gender balanced industry.

Last but not least, we need to adapt the ETF constitution to our modern times and need to be able to create clarity in our procedures and deal with crisis situations.

In trade unions we forget too much to celebrate our victories and to be proud of what we accomplish. Let us agree that a lot has been done! Keeping in mind that there is still a lot of work on our plate.

But if we want to deliver the results that our affiliates expect from us, it will not Livia nor Frank who will be able to do that on their own. Not even with the help of an efficient and hard working secretariat. We need all of you on board. We need your help to do so, because this is a joint cause. We need all our affiliates to take ownership. To step in the campaigns we organize. To take responsibility.

Let us hope that the two coming days of this Executive Committee will be fruitful and that decisions can be made to work together to realize the ETF program.