Social conditions must be developed both through collective bargaining and as official social policy and they should go hand in hand – that was the point in the speech of the European Commission representative Sigried Caspar at the final conference of the European social partners’ project on social conditions in public transport. It was held in Brussels on May 31 this year. The event was attended by FTTUB trade union leaders from the four metropolitan companies – SUMC, “Sofia Electrotransport”, “Sofia avtotransport” and “Metropolitan” – B.Danchev, E.Ivanova, N.Naydenov and T.Pachkova.
At the conference, the performed project study was presented as well as examples from Germany, France, Austria and Bulgaria. Mila Nikolova, FTTUB expert, introduced the Sofia urban transport four companies, outlined the productive social dialogue with Sofia Municipality and gave an example of good practice – the collective bargaining in “Metropolitan” EAD. She highlighted that at a national level, bargaining exists only in municipal enterprises, despite the lack of official statistics on this issue. Therefore, preservation of municipal companies is a precondition for the existence of social dialogue at company level and thus for the development of social standards. The unions also are meant to ensuring compliance with labor laws in the workplace and hence – to prevent unfair competition in the sector. The speaker underlined the enormous merit of Sofia Municipality and Sofia Municipal Council in this regard and their overall role as a wise, far-sighted and responsible social partner.
The research and the case studies also showed that the great variety of municipalities differently solve the problem of the public transport organization – by direct award to an internal operator or by competitive tendering for delivery of public transport service under Regulation 1370. It was concluded that although tender become more frequent, especially in bus transport, still social criteria and requirements in tendering procedures are not common practice. Therefore, the role of the collective bargaining, especially at sector level, is important for setting social conditions and benefits – particularly in cases of direct transfer of staff. The procedures for applying the regulation should be improved in order to prevent social dumping (deterioration of working conditions) regardless of the operators’ nature – public or private. It must be a part of the social pillar in the European agenda. The social partners will continue to work together at all level to face the new challenges and keep providing more quality transport services through quality employment. It is important they get political support for their efforts.
In FTTUB’s opinion, such support at European level should be offered to the sector level social dialogue where it is most difficult – in Central and Eastern Europe.