The European social dialogue on sectoral level: transport

Presentation (Elaboration), 2003

11 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of contents

1.) Introduction

2.) Characteristics of the transport sector

3.) Maritime transport and civil aviation
3.1. Maritime transport
3.1.1. The branch
3.1.2. Actors in the social dialogue
3.1.3. Outcomes of the social dialogue and future prospects
3.2. Civil aviation
3.2.1. The branch
3.2.2. Actors in the social dialogue
3.2.3. Outcomes of the social dialogue and future prospects

4.) Assessment of the value of the Social Dialogue for the transport sector


Appendix: slides of the presentation of the 7th of January 2004

1.) Introduction

The aim of this essay is to highlight important developments in the European social dialogue in the transport sector. Moreover it will try an assessment of the value of the European social dialogue for this sector.

First there will be an overview over the transport sector in the EU and its social dialogues.

Then it will focus in more detail on maritime transport and civil aviation, where the most significant outcomes can be observed. In the end it will try the assessment.

2.) Characteristics of the transport sector

The transport sector consists itself out of five branches: civil aviation, inland waterways, maritime transport, railways and road transport. Each branch has its own Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee (SSDC).

It accounts for approximately 3-4 % of EU employment, while road transport with a share of 1.8 % of EU employment is the biggest and maritime transport with a share of 0.1 % is the smallest branch. (Weber: 2003 and European Commission: 2003, p. 30, 37)

One feature covering all transport branches is the fact that they all were excluded from the working time directive 93/104/EC.

Another common feature is the fact that the EU has some competence in the transport sector and thus also legislates in this field. The commissioner is responsible for transport and energy is Loyola de Palacio. Due to the EU legislation the social dialogue in transport spends a lot of its time on evaluating the impact of the legislation on employment and working conditions.

Moreover the employers and employees organisations are consulted on Community initiatives in the area of transport and therefore close links to the directorate general VII for energy and transport exist. (Weber: 2003)

Due to the fact that transport was one of the first sectors affected by European integration here a social dialogue was already much earlier established than in other sectors. (Weber: 2003) The first so-called joint committee, made up of employers and employees organisations, was established in the road transport branch in 1965. Other branches followed: Railways in 1972, maritime transport in 1987 and civil aviation in 1990. The inland waterways branch did not have a joint committee. (European Commission: 2003, p. 46)

In most of the other sectors no joint committees had been established until 1998, when the Commission passed a decision instituting the sectoral social dialogue and defining criteria for the setting up of sectoral dialogue committees. (European Commission: 2003, p. 7/8, 46)

Now, all of the transport branches have sectoral social dialogue committees. (European Commission: 2003, p. 46)

For all the branches the biggest future challenge will be the enlargement. Especially the weak tradition of and experience with autonomous collective bargaining in the accession countries constitutes a great obstacle for the social dialogue. (European Commission: 2003, p. 13)

In maritime transport and civil aviation the social dialogue is most vibrant and had the most significant outcomes. This is why the next chapter will deal with these two branches in more detail.

3.) Maritime transport and civil aviation

3.1. Maritime transport

3.1.1. The branch

Employment in the maritime sectors amounts with approximately 155.000 employees in 4959 undertakings to 0.1 % of all EU employment. European sea transport represents 13 % of the global fleet and it is as well as the number of employees constantly declining. (European Commission: 2003, p. 39 and European Commission: 2002, p.67)

The major topic for the social dialogue is recruiting and training, because of the increasing shortage of skilled labour force within the EU while at the same time labour costs become more and more a decisive factor for staff decisions. European seafarers have due to relatively high labour costs a disadvantage in international competition for jobs. Other topics which have to be tackled are for instance the problems with flags of convenience and their impact on the working conditions, transport of dangerous goods or medical equipment on board vessels. (European Commission: 2003, p. 39) Another very important topic has been working time. (Weber: 2003)

3.1.2. Actors in the social dialogue

By the Commission recognised social partners are for the employers the European Community Shipowner’s Association (ECSA) and for the employees the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), namely its maritime transport section.

The position of both is unchallenged by other organisations. The coverage of ETF is about 65 % of employment in the sector. The ECSA represents all major shipowner’s associations of the Member States and covers more than 70 % of employment in the sector.

Both work together in a joint committee since 1987. The new SSDC was established in 1999. (European Commission: 2003, p. 46)

Before there were already more or less regular contacts between the social partners through an ad hoc committee, which was established in 1973. (European Commission: 2003, p. 39)

3.1.3. Outcomes of the social dialogue and future prospects

Since 1991 quite a number of joint texts covering ad wide scope of issues have been issued. They deal for instance with health issues or customs duties.

In 1996 the Commission together with the social partners held a conference on the topic “Is the EU Seafarer and endangered species?”, which considered employment and training possibilities for EU seafarers. As result a Dublin Follow-up process was launched which tries to establish and deepen the co-operation between all involved actors and the EU. (European Commission: 1996) This topic will still in the future remain one of the most urgent ones.

Several joint text deal with the problem of skilled labour force shortage, the last one in 2001 on “recruitment and training of sailors in Europe”. (Broughton: 2003) But all these texts remain just opinions, which are legally not binding and enforceable.

Despite internal topics, the partners have also found a number of common positions to questions of international concern, for instance supporting the ratification of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Convention on seafarer’s hours of work, piracy, training and recruitment of seafarers in Europe. (European Commission: 2003, p. 39)

But the most significant outcome of the social dialogue is the “Joint opinion on the organisation of working time” from 1996 which was put to the Commission with the request to be given legal effects through a Council Directive. It was then transposed to EU Law by the Council Directive 1999/63/EC according to Art. 139 (2) of the Treaty of the European Communities (EC). (European Commission: 2003, p. 8)

This was a major achievement, because this way a regulation of working time took place in a branch which was excluded from the scope of the working time directive of 1993. This reduced the number of branches with no European working time regulation. Through the transposition into EU Law this joint opinion became, in contrast to the others, legally binding and enforceable.

But despite this success, it has to taken in consideration that the joint opinion was adopted in the light of the Commission planning to initiate legislation on working time in the sectors excluded from the scope of the directive. The social partners therefore tried to retain major influence in order to prevent a directive drafted and passed only by European institutions.

Steps towards this legislation were taken in July 1997 through a white paper and in March 1998 by entering into consultations with the respective social partners. (Weber: 2003)


Excerpt out of 11 pages


The European social dialogue on sectoral level: transport
University of Hamburg
European Labour Relations
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
443 KB
Deals with the results of the sectoral social dialogue in the transport sector.
European, Labour, Relations
Quote paper
Georg Schwedt (Author), 2003, The European social dialogue on sectoral level: transport, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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