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ETF report on driver fatigue and road safety misses the mark
Global | Geneva

ETF report on driver fatigue and road safety misses the mark

4 Jun 2021 · People

The European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) published a report, “Driver Fatigue in European Road Transport”, on 3 June 2021. 

IRU, the world road transport organisation and a longstanding partner with the ETF in the European Social Sector Dialogue, refutes many of the report’s conclusions, particularly in relation to road transport operators. 

We are disappointed that ETF released this report on safety, our most important shared concern, without engaging with IRU in the context of our social dialogue partnership. 

IRU and its members work closely and productively with trade union bodies on many joint projects, activities and events. 

IRU, with shippers and trade unions, including ETF and the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), teamed up to launch a charter to improve the treatment of drivers at delivery sites. Last month we shared a stage with the ITF at the International Transport Forum summit, putting the focus on drivers. In 2019, IRU and the ETF worked together in advocating for more safe and secure parking for drivers, successfully securing a funding commitment of €60 million under the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility. 

Safety is the number one concern of all road transport operators, as enshrined in laws and regulations. It is crucial that drivers and companies operate within the law, for example in respecting rest times. 

Legislation aims to prevent fatigue of any kind and employers must, and generally do, operate within the law. If laws need to be adapted to further enhance safety and driver conditions, trade unions and employers should work together, with regulators, to revise rules and then ensure their effective enforcement. 

The ETF should continue to use its social partner mandate and cooperate with IRU within the working groups of the social sector dialogue. Publishing information, such as many of the baseless or over-generalised recommendations to transport operators in this report, are counter-productive. 

Statements such as insufficient fleet renewal efforts by operators (European operators already have, on average, the youngest fleets in the world) and requests for operators to reduce the demand for just-in-time deliveries (as required by their clients, Europe’s businesses and citizens) are not helpful and ignore the complexity and seriousness of the challenge.

The road transport industry is crucial in providing mobility and logistics services in Europe, as elsewhere. Our professional drivers have stood out every day as true heroes during the pandemic, keeping economies moving and communities mobile and connected. Their working conditions, support and respect are dependent on pragmatic and well thought through contributions from all stakeholders, to ensure laws, and their enforcement, are up to the job. 

IRU remains committed to improving working conditions in road transport in partnership with European and international social partners, including the ETF. We will continue to propose pragmatic improvements to social rules and driver conditions, adapting to the reality of the profession in the safest and most efficient way possible.