PES Transport Ministers: Commission “Mobility Package” must stop unfair competition and protect transport workers

PES Transport Ministers: Commission “Mobility Package” must stop unfair competition and protect transport workers

This was the conclusion of the meeting of PES Transport Ministers, which met in Luxembourg today (8 June 2017).

Following the recent release of the European Commission’s “Mobility Package”, a central part of the discussion, together with Eduardo Chagas, Secretary General of the European Transport Workers’ Federation, was dedicated to the package’s proposals to reform EU social rules in the transport sector.

Minister Jörg Leichtfried (SPÖ, Austria), chairman of the network of PES Transport Ministers, said:

“The five million transport workers in the EU represent 5% of the Union’s workforce, generating 5% of our GDP. Due to these significant numbers, and the highly mobile and border-crossing nature of the sector’s activities, many questions concerning the application of social legislation to road transport workers arose in cases where drivers from lower-income countries were operating in countries with higher salaries and higher social protection rules, without profiting from those higher standards.

It is thus high time to update the EU’s social legislation in the road transport sector. Some of the social legislation proposals by the European Commission’s Mobility Package go into the right direction, such as the Commission’s proposals to close loopholes for transport companies to circumvent EU social legislation. We cannot allow employers to strip transport workers off their social rights by founding letter box companies or using light vehicles under 3.5 tons that were exempted from social rules so far.

However, the proposal to exempt cross-border transport operations from equal pay rules leaves the door open to unfair competition between transport workers and transport companies. Equal pay for equal work also has to be applied in the European transport sector.”

In order to strengthen the social rights of Europe’s transport workers, Nicolas Schmit, Minister of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy of Luxembourg, and chairman of the network of PES Labour and Social Affairs Ministers, also attended the meeting to coordinate joint activities of PES Transport and PES Employment Ministers.

Minister Nicolas Schmit (LSAP, Luxembourg) said:

“As PES Employment and Social Affairs Ministers we are dedicated to complement the EU’s internal market by a strong social dimension. That is why we are fighting for the foundation of an ambitious European Pillar of Social Rights. The rights of Europe’s transport workforce have to be included in such an initiative. Some transport workers are in situations that could be called modern slavery. We have to stop these exploitative practices by tighter European legislation, and stricter national controls.” 

The meeting was also attended by:

Jörg Leichtfried

Chairman, Minister for Transport, Technology and Innovation, Austria

Nicolas Schmit

Minister of Labour, Employment and the Social and Solidarity Economy, Luxembourg, Chairman of the network of PES labour and social affairs ministers

Pervenche Berès

Member of the European Parliament, chairwoman of the PES Social Europe Network, PS France

Eduardo Chagas

Secretary General European Transport Workers’ Federation

Graziano Delrio

Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Italy

Anna Johansson

Minister for Infrastructure, Sweden

Pedro Marques

Minister of Planning and Infrastructure, Portugal

István Ujhelyi

Member of the European Parliament, Vice-Chair of the Committee on Transport and Tourism, S&D, MSZP Hungary