Yesterday, 6 September 2018, the ETF met EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc and members of her cabinet. Bulc’s team is responsible for many of the dossiers that affect transport workers, but our meeting focused on just one burning issue: the EU Mobility Package. This reform of the road transport sector could utterly transform working conditions for professional drivers – for better or worse – but the proposals are currently lost in bitter arguments at the European Parliament and Council.
We found the Commissioner still determined to have the package adopted. We share this goal, but not at any price! We brought reasonable solutions to the Commissioner for a road transport sector that is safe, fair and decent to workers. Our offer is a way out of the regrettable deadlock for the Mobility Package. Ms Bulc should engage with the workers’ voice to complete the Package before she ends her tenure as Transport Commissioner next year.
Our delegation pointed out that there are several elements in the Package which are especially holding things back. The Commission’s infamous proposal of a 3-day exemption for drivers from new posting rules led to a battle in the European Parliament which brought the whole package to a standstill twice before the summer break.
On the posting of workers, ETF has already come up with a constructive and perfectly enforceable alternative proposal for international transport: drivers carrying out simple export-import operations should be covered by the rules of the country where the operation starts, as the driver regularly returns here.
Driving and rest time is another red line for the ETF and our members, bus, coach and truck drivers. Any compromise which waters down the solution adopted in April by the Employment Committee of the European Parliament will impact negatively on drivers’ pay, rest conditions and time off. This would go against the declared objectives of the driving and rest time rules, which is to improve drivers’ working conditions, ensure safety for all road users and guarantee a climate of fair competition in our sector.
Time is short. The ETF has always played a constructive role in this process; we have never engaged in a ‘reject’ campaign against this Mobility Package. Europe’s road transport sector needs reform. However, debates are unfortunately trapped in a stand-off. In the weeks to come, Council and Parliament would move much faster towards a decision if we focus on the enforcement of posting and cabotage rules, and on measures to eliminate fictitious letter-box companies. This way, the Mobility Package would become a success story for the European Commission, rather than an embarrassing failure.
We are ready to fully engage along these lines.
The meeting with Commissioner Bulc is part of the ETF’s longstanding Fair Transport Europe Campaign, in which transport workers across Europe are standing together against social dumping and exploitation. A fair and social Mobility Package would be a clear sign in the run-up to the next European election that the EU can deliver for citizens.