European Transport Workers Campaign- Fair Transport Europe

Fair Transport Europe is an campaign to improve working conditions for European transport workers. These are the workers who keep Europe connected, but do so under increasingly deteriorating and inhumane working conditions.

They are constantly being pushed to work harder, faster and for less money, and with no or very limited contractual safety nets.

The objective of the campaign is to raise enough awareness for this important topic to put it on the agenda of the European Commission.

Supporting the campaign is the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), which represents more than 3.5 million transport workers from over 230 transport unions and 41 European countries.

Why this campaign is necessary

Transport is a vital component of the European economy. The transport sector directly employs more than 11 million people – 5 per cent of the EU’s total workforce.

In recent years, the EU has taken significant steps towards creating a harmonised market for transport in Europe. Harmonisation and the removal of barriers, be they technical, administrative or regulatory, are important to facilitating the real free movement of goods and persons within the EU.

With the opening up of markets for goods and services, the labour market becomes a meeting place for workers of different nationalities, cultures and pay levels. However, the liberalisation process has not been accompanied by a parallel process of social harmonisation. On the contrary, employment and working conditions show a general sharp downward trend, affecting all modes of transport.

Every year, migrant workers are employed in the transport sector, with no social protection, deplorable wages and inhumane living conditions.

The main reason is that the wide differences in labour and social market structures among the EU countries remain significant. Together with the poor and ineffective national enforcement mechanisms of current EU legislation, this has created loopholes in legislation that allow widespread unfair competition and social dumping practices, leading to bogus self-employment, fraudulent posting, illicit agency work and similar practices.

The widespread cross-border social dumping poses a threat to European cohesion and the well-functioning freedom of movement of labour and services. Therefore, common standards are needed for fair working conditions and social rights within the European transport sector. This is what the Fair Transport Europe campaign is all about.

We seek to achieve concrete solutions for how to stop the downward social spiral towards the lowest common denominator. We want fair salaries, fair working conditions and fair social rights for transport workers in Europe.

European Citizen Initiative (ECI)

On the 14th of September 2016 the collection of signatures for the Fair Transport Europe ECI ended. Hundreds of thousands of Europeans have supported the petition and signed for a fairer transport sector and we have reached even more people with campaign activities and via social media. We have reached more people than ever before with our message for fair working conditions and against social dumping in transport. We want to thank all those who have made this possible.

The collection of signatures ended, but the campaign for Fair Transport is far from over. We have been successful in putting social dumping issues on the agenda in European politics, with Commissioners acknowledging the importance of taking measures to secure proper working conditions in European transport. We have received support not only from MEPs across the political spectrum, but also from members of national parliaments and ministers who have signed and publicly endorsed Fair Transport Europe. We will continue to push for real political change, and the momentum is with us.

7 concrete proposals

Fair Transport Europe made seven concrete proposals the Europeaan Commission can take to improve working conditions and secure fair competition for law-abiding businesses in the different transport sectors.

We invited the European Commission to:

  1. In the framework of the labour mobility package to be presented by the end of 2015, set up a working group with representatives from the recognised social partners in the transport sector to discuss measures to ensure the effective implementation of the Posting of Workers Directive 96/71/EC;
  2. Propose strong EU legislation to effectively prevent the creation of letter-box companies
  3. Expand control and enforcement mechanisms to ensure uniform implementation and enforcement of existing employment and social legislation in transport, including the ‘Enforcement Directive’ 2014/67/EU, for example:
    • European platform for all relevant monitoring and labour inspections
    • The pursuit of a higher level of harmonization of sanctions and fines
    • A Directive on minimum standards for labour inspection (based on ILO Convention 81)
  4. Propose rules to end abusive forms of precarious work (e.g.: zero hour contracts, bogus self-employment)
  5. Propose rules to establish joint and several liability in subcontracting chains
  6. Amend Directive 2001/23/EC on transfers of undertakings in order to include change of ownership in case of mergers, take overs and public procurement and to clarify the concept of “economic entity” in a way to extend the benefits of the directive to workers in case of calls for tenders or partial loss of activity
  7. Work for a broad recognition of a European definition of social dumping

About ETF

Fair Transport Europe is sponsored by the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF).

ETF is a pan-European trade union organisation embracing transport trade unions from the EU, the European Economic Area and Central and Eastern European countries.

ETF has affiliated unions which organise workers in the railway, road transport and logistics sectors, as well as maritime transport, ports and docks, inland waterways, civil aviation, fisheries and tourism services.

Read more about the ETFs' vision for the future of European Transport in their VISION PAPER (Versions also available in French, German, Spanish and Swedish).

ETF represents more than 3.5 million transport workers from over 230 transport unions and 41 European countries.

Read more about the ETF on our website.