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Joint union organising wins safe rates for Polish drivers

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Polish drivers proudly hold the Dutch  collective bargaining agreement book

Polish drivers proudly hold the Dutch collective bargaining agreement book

A cross-border campaign by ITF member union the FNV against the exploitation of drivers and social dumping in transport linked to the potato industry has won safe rates in two trucking companies and is now focusing on a third.

The victory guarantees safe rates – safe and fair pay and conditions right across the transport supply chain.

Potato transport in Western Europe is dominated by three Dutch companies with sub-contractors in Poland. While the Dutch collective bargaining agreement (CBA) ensured wages of €13 per hour, drivers employed by the sub-contractors received only around €3.

Since 2012, when a local manager in Poland told a Polish driver that he needed “Dutch blood in his body to get a Dutch wage”, workers have come together to fight for a better deal and unions have stepped up their co-operation.

The FNV and fellow ITF member union Solidarność in Poland jointly organised most of the 400 drivers in the Polish trade union. After a strike, media publicity and court pressure, the unions won safe rates in two of the Netherlands-based companies.

One of the Polish sub-contractors has now closed and its drivers are contracted under the CBA with the Dutch parent company, which gives them social security and pension benefits, along with an extra €1, 000 in pay per month. The second Polish firm will close later this year and the drivers will be employed by the German parent company and hopefully come under a CBA with ITF union ver.di.

FNV road transport campaigns leader Edwin Atema stated: “This has all happened because the drivers have organised themselves in trade unions which are part of a global trade union family. Dutch blood was not needed for Dutch wages. These drivers are the best ambassadors of our trade unions and our best soldiers to fight social dumping: they know how to do it and know their colleagues can win.”

ITF inland transport secretary Mac Urata commented that exploitation and pitting workers against workers is rife in the road transport industry and he was confident that other ITF unions will be inspired by this successful union co-operation. He urged others to join the campaign for safe rates and against social dumping.

Watch this film to see how the FNV and Solidarność started their safe rates in potato transport campaign.

Read how the Australian Transport Workers’ Union won landmark safe rates legislation in 2012 and inspired the campaign in Europe.

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