Discussing social and employment issues in the EU Transport industry has so far been a taboo in Brussels. With the high level conference organized by the European Commission “A Social Agenda for Transport” on 4 June, we might have seen a significant change of tone by Europe’s decision-makers.
Essentially, this comes down to the Commission no longer being indifferent to the problems of Flags of Convenience, social dumping and atypical employment in transport. The two Commissioners – Violeta Bulc (Transport) and Marianne Thyssen (Employment), who addressed the conference (speech) (speech), acknowledged the problems and seemed receptive to the stakeholders’ proposals. As to the recent study on atypical employment in aviation, published by the Ghent University, Commissioner Thyssen invited Europe’s social partners to continue their work and: “to follow-up on this study with further joint work on new forms of employment.”
Europe’s employers and employees, on their turn, gave decision-makers a final notice: enforce the existing rules and reinforce regulationto prevent abuses such as “regulatory shopping” and social dumping. The current situation is unsustainable – be it in ground handling, road or air transport.
Now, some might be upset by the Commission’s new tone and initiatives. But it’s a good reminder that the rules are there for a reason and that they need to be enforced effectively.