Unite delegate Kevin Terry said that Unite has long been fighting for fair transport on all fronts – from docks and seas to buses, taxis, rail, roads, aviation and more – as he spoke on Tuesday (September 11) in support of a motion about the Fair Transport campaign.
The campaign, headed up by the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), which aims to demand quality jobs for transport workers, and a safe, reliable service across Europe is the latest coordinated cross-border trade union campaign of which Unite is involved with.
Terry, a road transport worker, said that alongside its brothers and sisters at the ETF and International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), Unite has “fought off the bosses’ attempts to undermine standards on drivers’ working week and to shorten the weekly rest period.
“This would be a major health and safety hazard for HGV drivers, other road users, and all in our communities,” he noted. “But this is not the end of the campaign.
“We must ensure drivers are paid the wages of the country they are working in if that is higher – stopping exploitation and unfair undercutting too,” he added. “We must stop the outsourcing of driving jobs to second, third, and sometimes fourth party suppliers, driving down wages and conditions at each stage.”
Kevin highlighted the severe shortage of drivers in the UK, which he attributed to a race to the bottom in pay.
“Earning £8.50 per hour driving a 44-tonne 50 foot lorry away from home 5 or 6 days a week does not reflect the demands of the job, and does not recognise the skills of drivers,” he explained. “On top of that they suffer the company constantly tracking and badgering them all day.
“And we are also seeing our members under attack in the shipping sector,” Kevin went on to say. “In harbour towage services Kotug Smit entered several UK ports operating vessels under a flag of convenience, lowering rates and taking the industry into an unnecessary race to the bottom, threatening our members’ terms and conditions.
“Thankfully, these issues have been identified here and in mainland Europe as part of the ETF Fair Transport campaign,” he added. “Unite is proud to support the campaign and we have highlighted it in our own strategy for transport.”
Urging conference to support the motion backing the ETF’s campaign, he reminded delegates that “fair transport benefits us all.”
The motion was carried.