Friday, September 25, 2015

Seminar Aims to Promote Fairer Freight by Water in Europe

Prague Meeting Faces Social Security Conundrum
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – Earlier this month participants from various Member States discussed how to organise fair inland waterway transport in Europe. The meeting in Prague at the 8th European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) Inland Waterway Transport (IWT) seminar agreed that the freight by water sector faces many challenges especially in the area of social security. Currently two systems are in place side-by-side, one for the Rhine area and one for the non-Rhine area. The participants to the seminar expressed the need for only one social security system on board of a vessel, regardless the nationalities of the various crewmembers. They asked for clear and transparent criteria and a full ahead preference for the Rhine Treaty fundamentals.

In order to further develop this environmental friendly transport mode, fair social conditions have to be in place in order to enhance labour mobility and to attract new and young workers to the sector. ETF affiliates opt for technology to create a fair sector. A smart tachograph and an individual crewmembers’ smart card, seemingly paralleling the road haulage drivers’ credentials, could presumably create an accessible and controllable social environment.

Also discussed was the introduction of a Fair Transport Mark, which would identify the social quality and qualifications of the company concerned, and would be useful as a way of improving fairness in the sector. ETF affiliates demanded more and better enforcement and controlling tools, even using sanctions in case of non-compliance to bring things to order. They agreed that creating legislation is one thing, however correct implementation and enforcement is crucial for its success.

Finally the participants emphasised the importance of good infrastructure for the sector. IWT should remain within the European Commission’s focus when it comes to financing tools for infrastructure. ETF IWT section organises each year a seminar for its members to discuss issues high on the Section’s political agenda.

Photo: Three barges taking a museum bound Russian unmanned space shuttle up the Rhine.