COVID-19: “Solidarity is the basis of our recovery plan”!, say Frank Moreels and S&D Vice-President Ismail Ertug
As the reality of COVID-19 sets in, it’s time for Europe to start planning our recovery. The basis? Solidarity. Frank Moreels, President of the European Transport Workers’ Federation, and Ismail Ertug, S&D MEP lay out the challenges transport workers are facing, and what Europe should be doing to exit the crisis at a general level and to build a just transport sector.
What should a plan based on solidarity look like?
This crisis has proven that transport workers are essential to keep supply chains going. In return, they’re asking to be treated fairly. COVID-19 has exacerbated companies’ dubious practices: letterbox companies, precarious contracts, deteriorating working conditions and salaries – this is the reality of transport workers. Any plan put into place must address these issues and rethink the future of the transport industry.
Putting into place measures that protect transport workers
Transport companies should be given support if they are in difficulty due to the crisis – but this must be conditional on the support they provide employees.
Prohibition of lay-offs due to the COVID-19 crisis, prolongation of temporary agency work contracts until the end of the crisis, and coverage of zero-hour workers by all job retention schemes ensuring a decent level of living throughout this crisis. Moreover, a ban on pay-out of dividends to shareholders and a ban on stock buybacks by companies should be put in place for companies benefitting from this support.
Leaving no one behind
The European Commission wants to have “an economy that works for people”. Now it’s their chance to act: strong measures based on solidarity such as ‘coronabonds’ should be put into place.
Moreover, the present emergency should not be an excuse to block legislation that is aimed at improving transport workers’ life: for example, the Mobility Package.
“Social” and “sustainable” go hand in hand
Fair pricing, which ensures the industry’s social, economic and environmental sustainability should be the basis of the ‘Smart and sustainable mobility strategy’ which the European Commission is planning to launch soon.
What will happen if the EU doesn’t step up its solidarity?
We are already witnessing attempts, by governments in Europe, to use these times of crisis to put democracy on hold. We can still reverse this trend, but we need to act fast, and with a plan. Because we still need the EU – the EU based on solidarity and respect for its citizens, and for the transport workers that, even in times of crisis, keep Europe moving.