ETF meets the French Minister of Transport, Elisabeth Borne: Protecting workers’ rights is not protectionism
On 22 February an ETF delegation met with the French Minister of Transport Elisabeth Borne. The meeting was a breath of fresh air! Up in the heights of the European Council building, set in a small meeting room, we all saw the light at the end of the tunnel in a ‘Brussels’ dominated by the rhetoric of more competitiveness, less red tape and… less rights for workers.
France is one of those EU Member States who care about the lives and work of professional drivers, who haven’t given up to the idea of a more socially, environmentally and economically sustainable road transport sector.
The main topics of interest were the application of posting of workers to international road transport, the driving and rest time, cabotage and letter-box companies. Enforcement came up as an overarching concern for all present at the meeting. The ETF stated its concerns over the compromise proposals tabled by the Bulgarian Presidency – excluding for instance cabotage and international transport from posting by 5 respectively 9 days per month.
The ETF considers the exchange of views a success. But we cannot stop wondering: why should countries like France and Sweden care about other countries’ citizens so brutally and visibly exploited in our sector? When will Bulgarian, Romanian and Polish drivers be taken care of by Bulgaria, Romania and Poland? For the time being, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland, together with few other Member States, are busy putting pressure on the EU legislator to lower social standards and make rules much more flexible in road transport, so that all forms of driver exploitation become somehow… legal! We trust that in the end, with the support of some socially-minded forces in the European Council and the European Parliament we will succeed to make the Mobility Package work in the benefit of the professional drivers.
Protecting workers’ rights is not protectionism!