The campaign to put ‘fair transport’ at the heart of the agenda in Brussels aims to combat the deplorable working conditions endured by many of the 11m transport workers in Europe, due to insufficient or poorly implemented EU legislation or unfair business practices — commonly referred to as ‘social dumping’.
These practices have dire consequences, however, not only for the workers themselves, but also for companies that want to compete on quality of services rather than on worsening working conditions.
Nautilus International’s focus in the campaign, naturally, is for those working in shipping and inland waterways.
The Union supports the seven key proposals presented by the ETF to the European Commission which urge it to take to measures to tackle unfair competition and social dumping.
On shipping, the proposals point out that the increasing use of low-cost foreign crews is undermining the employment and training of EU seafarers. The ETF calls for a revamped directive to regulate pay and conditions onboard ships operating regular services between member states and to ‘prevent the downwards spiral in salaries and discriminatory practices on grounds of nationality’.
It also calls for loopholes to be closed to ensure that state aid for shipping is more closely tied to the employment and training of EU seafarers.
The campaign also highlights the way in which the economic downturn has caused ‘havoc’ in the inland waterways sector, with huge over-capacity and severe pressures on crews’ working conditions. It calls for the Commission to harmonise the professional qualifications in the industry and to combat fatigue in the sector.
The ambitious campaign kicked off with a petition in September 2015 which aims to collect more than 1m signatures from across Europe to ensure that measures to safeguard fair competition in transport and to protect workers’ terms and conditions are addressed by Euro-MPs.
The ETF is using the Citizens’ Initiative machinery to seek changes or improvements to the EU’s laws and regulations. Under this scheme, if the signature threshold is reached, the European Commission must take concrete action — such as new legislation — to address the issues being raised.
If you are a European Union citizen, help swell the signatures now and sign the petition.
In the meantime, Nautilus will continue working with the ETF to persuade the European Commission that this initiative is a chance to engage with the European public, and the trade unions, to make real improvements to working conditions for millions of European transport workers, and to encourage more constructive dialogue.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson also welcomed the campaign: ‘This is a very welcome and timely campaign which complements our own work on fair trade and shipping and seeks to take an important message to right to the heart of the European policy-making process. I hope members will support this initiative and sign the petition, so that these important issues are brought before MEPs.’
For Fair Transport in the Netherlands and to check the right salary and working conditions in your native country, the FNV has produced online native language guides.