Fair Transport Campaign

FAIRNESS is not the reality in the TRANSPORT SECTOR


All over Europe, European transport workers suffer.
They face unfair competition or they are the victim of social dumping and even exploitation.
This results in job losses, poor working conditions, precarious contracts and low wages.
Or worse: harrasment and even physical and/or sexual abuse.

We can give you numerous examples of the way transport workers are mistreated all over Europe.

In road transport for example,
East-European truck drivers are living for weeks in a row in their trucks or stacked together with ten, fifteen drivers in one apartment.
Weeks or even months without having the opportunity to return to their homes,
to their family.
For a salary half of what their Western-European colleagues have on their pay slip,
but still doing the same job.

Some companies, that are involved in this social dumping, are active worldwide,
like for example XPO, who organizes social dumping on a massive scale in Europe.
They have an enormous disrespect for their workers.
In their warehouses, female workers are for example discriminated severely in Spain.
They don’t stand any chance of getting a promotion, because they might be off from work if they become pregnant. This very same company denies workers’ rights in the States.

And what to think about the 200 Philippino drivers victim of human trafficking in Denmark?
They were engaged with false promises in the Philippines by a polish agency for temporary employment.
In reality they work for a Danish haulier driving mostly in Germany, Denmark, ...
Their salary is 2 € per hour.
During their resting time they are living in camps, kind of slum like facilities.
After intervention of our colleagues of 3F in Denmark, this practice was stopped by the Danish authorities, but it is a good illustration of the excesses of social dumping.

Let us talk about Ikea, one of the big multinationals.
IKEA is just an example of how big multinational companies refuse to take responsibility for what happens in their supply chain.
IKEA is boasting with its reputation of sustainability but is at the same time exploiting the transport companies in its sub-contraction and thus the truck drivers in its supply chain.
We all know the iconic Billy book case of Ikea, sold for the price of 39,99 euros.
The University of Lund calculated that, if extra costs would be charged for fair transport,
the book case would cost 40,57 euros. So only 0,58 euros more for a fair supply chain.
Now Ikea saves 0,58 euros on the back of the truck drivers.

Problems like these could easily be avoided if the multinationals would engage themselves by declaring their corporate responsibility for their own supply chain.
A big company like Unilever is willing to discuss with our international federation, the ITF, and take concrete initiatives: other multinational companied shall do this too.

Another example of unfair situations in transport are the river cruises.
A joy for the people on holiday, a real nightmare for the crew.
Hard work, low wages, long hours, overcrowded crew rooms and accommodation and even pay discrepancies. Again with East European and Philippino staff.

See also the Uberisation of the taxi sector, and even of the whole transport sector
Uber drivers hardly realize the minimum wage and mostly work as bogus self-employed workers.
Uber is cultivating a “sexy” image, pretending to contribute to solve the mobility problems we face in our cities. In reality they destabilize the taxi sector, pushing to lower wages and job loss without complying to legislation.

I bet many of you here today are regular customers of low cost airlines. Our unions are fighting all over Europe a battle with low budget airlines to defend the rights of pilots and cabin crew.
Low fare airlines like Ryanair are mainly built on the low pay and poor conditions of the staff. Again profits are realized on the back of the workers.
We all know the example of Ryanair that falsely engaged crew and pilots in Ireland although the real base was for example Charleroi in Belgium.
But with our campaigns ETF and ITF were able to force Ryanair at the negotiation table and to recognize unions.
The same Ryanair of which former CEO Michael O’Leary declared that it would be rather freezing in hell then him talking with unions. It must be rather cold in hell for the moment. There is a still a long way to go in order to make Ryanair a decent employer, but we are determined not to give up.
This is an example about our campaigns being successful.

This is what this Fair Transport campaign is about.
Fair Transport in Europe. Fair transport is not just about customers’ right, but also about rights of transport workers, who are those who actually move Europe and allow mobility of people and goods all over our continent.
European transport trade unions standing together to end unfair competition and exploitation.
We are organizing across Europe with all the strength of our movement, building up to this inter-national week of action just now.

The European Elections of May 2019 are approaching very quickly.
With these elections in sight, we want to seize the opportunity to give a clear signal to the candidate-Members of the European Parliament. We want them to commit to our cause.
We need them to ensure us that they will defend the rights of all the European transport workers and that they will do their utmost to develop quality work in the transport sector.

ETF wants to give a clear and loud signal towards politicians and wants to hear a clear commitment back!
We need fundamental changes in the Transport industry and in transport policies.

We want a social Europe.
A Europe that harmonizes upwards.
A Europe that does not bring down wages, but just pulls them up.
A Europe that provides more social protection instead of less.
A Europe where Eastern-Europeans are no longer exploited in road transport, in the river cruise sector or in logistics.

But with this campaign we also address employers and most certainly the economic employers, the so called order givers, multinational companies who tender their transport operations to subcontractors not taking responsibility for these subcontractors in their supply chain.

The transport industry has changed drastically over the last few years and it is still in a change process.
Automation and digitalization have their effect on transport workers and their jobs, and this is already a fact in some transport modes.
We need to make sure that employers take their responsibility towards their staff, towards their subcontractors, towards their own supply chain.

All of this to reach our objective: create respect for transport workers all over Europe.

And we are not only in action against malpractice in the transport sector. We have proposals.
Our manifesto has 8 major demands:

1. More and fair jobs for European transport workers

According to the data from the European Commission, the transport and storage services sector (including postal and courier activities) in the EU-28 employed around 11.2 million persons in 2015. Although the total employment in transport is rising, several sectors are stagnating or in decline (e. g. aviation).

As representatives of the European transport workers’, we request the creation of 250,000 new, decent jobs within the next term of the EU institutions (2019 – 2024). At the same time, the jobs that would disappear due to digitalization or automation have to be safeguarded by retraining or requalification (cf. point 7). This figure represents around 2 per cent of the current workforce in transport. Focus should not only be put on the number of jobs but also on their quality. These jobs need to be full-time, for an indefinite period and with decent remuneration and working conditions.

2. European transport workers deserve a pay rise

In 2015, almost 10% of workers in the 28 EU Member States were living at risk of poverty, and the proportion was rising. Transport workers are vulnerable due to the mobile nature of their work as well as the exposure to social dumping, and their wages are stagnating or even decreasing.
A pay rise would be good for the economy, for business, for growth, for jobs and for workers. Europe needs stronger economic demands to drive growth, as well as more investments. With more money in their pockets, workers will buy goods and services, that will boost businesses and generate growth and jobs.
We therefore fully support the ETUC Pay Rise campaign and require a pay rise for all European transport workers.

3. European Pillar of Social Rights must become binding

In the recent mandate, the European Commission has taken binding measures in a number of fields. Social legislation is however lagging behind and most of the initiatives are of a political nature.
As ETF, we request that the European Pillar of Social Rights becomes binding and enforceable through enforceable legislative measures and including proper sanctions for non-compliance.

4. Creation of a “Social Europol”

The social legislation both at EU level and in a number of individual member states has a decent standard – it is however not properly enforced. Some countries even see the non-respect of EU social acquis as a competitive advantage. The recent proposal for the establishment of the European Labour Authority (ELA) definitely goes in the right direction but the new body does not have enough competences.

The ETF requests that the European Labour Authority is equipped with proper enforcement tools and can act both at European level as well as at national level in case of conflicts, ensuring proper implementation of the European social legislation.

5. Public transport for all European cities

Public transport affects everyone. It is an integral and essential part of the modern world. Instead of privatisation and cost-optimisation, European cities should work on a sustainable transport that is accessible and affordable for everyone.
The ETF fully endorses the ITF #OurPublicTransport campaign and calls on the EU Institutions to create a framework for the development of sustainable public transport systems that provide a reliable service for an acceptable price to every citizen.

6. Stop attacks on workers’ individual and collective rights

The freedom of assembly is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Economic freedoms however often enjoy primacy over these rights and recently, the European Commission launched a frontal attack on the rights of air traffic controllers by promoting minimum services and encouraging Member States to circumvent the legitimate right to strike.

The ETF requests to stop the persecution and criminalization of trade union activities, cease the attacks on workers’ individual and collective rights and asks the EU Institutions to actively commit to their promotion.

7. Stop gender-based violence on transport workers

The transport sector is still a male dominated industry and only about 20 per cent of all workers are women. A recent ETF survey shows that 63% of women transport workers have experienced at least one recent act of violence at work and 25% believe that violence against women workers is a regular occurrence in transport. Therefore, the ETF urges the EU Institutions and the EU Member States to support the establishment of a new ILO Convention, supplemented by a Recommendation, on violence and harassment in the world of work, with a strong focus on gender-based violence, and play an important/active role in the negotiations at the International Labour Conference.

8. Social dimension of automation and digitalization

  • Automation and digitalization are one of today’s biggest challenges not only for European transport workers but for the whole society. While as ETF we are not opposed to the changes this will bring, we insist that they have to be done in a socially sustainable manner and workers must not pay the price in the name of higher profits for the companies. More concretely:
    the human element must remain in the center of all changes
  • job guarantees and a fair transition must be provided for all the workers involved
  • changes have to be negotiated between employers and the unions
  • retraining and requalification has to be provided for workers whose jobs will disappear due to automation or digitalization
  • if necessary, dedicated taxes have to be introduced to finance dealing with the social impact of these changes


 FT 2019 Poster EN A4