New postion on the EU postal services directive

CESI published a new position on the evaluation of the EU postal services directive 97/67/EC which the European Commission is currently undertaking. In its position, which is part of a larger response to a public consultation that closes today. In its position, CESI calls on the European Commission to commit to a continued EU postal services directive and to only propose a revision if ambitious binding targets, mechanisms and minimum standards are set for the sector to strengthen the role of universal services, avoid precarious employment and contribute to climate protection.

In its position, CESI outlines the following priorities for decent work in a functioning postal industry in Europe:

1. The European legislators must give a clear commitment to the continued existence of an EU postal services directive and, in the event of a revision, ensure for its further development. The overarching priority must be the maintenance or the creation of a sustainable balance between competition, consumer needs, a functioning and economically viable universal service as well as the maintenance of quality jobs within the postal and parcel industry. Wage dumping, discrimination and exploitation of workers must be ruled out.

2. An adequate provision of universal postal services necessitates an ambitious minimum postal infrastructure and minimum service quality.

3. In principle, there must be deliveries in all areas on at least five working days per week. Appropriate measures must be taken to ensure that the national universal postal service provider does not experience any disadvantages compared to competing companies due to the universal service task assigned to it.

4. As the employment situation in the postal and parcel industry regularly witnesses severe social issues and violations of the law, national framework conditions must be created –which could be based on effective and ambitious minimum standards at EU level– that counteract this undesirable development. For example, the payment of minimum wages and compliance with driving times and rest periods must be subject to constant and transparent controls by the responsible national authorities. If rules are not complied with, the executive and judiciary must intervene.

5. Legislators and social partners should undertake for work in the sector to be subject to collective bargaining coverage. By involving the social partners can be ensured that minimum standards are met, acceptable wages paid and workers not exploited and affected by poverty in old age. In the postal and parcel industry, a minimum wage should apply that prevents the risk of poverty.

6. The national legislation of the Member States must introduce subcontractor liability in the letter and parcel industry. In the event of violations of the law by a service partner (subcontractor) of a postal service provider, the postal service provider, as the client, should also be held accountable in future. In case the EU Postal Services Directive is overhauled, this must be included in its revision.

7. The spirit of the European Green Deal and a social Europe would be reflected in the EU postal services directive in case it is revised. From an environmental point of view, increased state funding for alternative engines and innovative models for letter and parcel delivery are urgently needed. The postal operators should agree to make deliveries with a common, low-emission vehicle fleet. For this purpose, the distribution of letters and parcels could be subject to licensing. When issuing such delivery licenses, aspects of environmental protection, but also social security obligations and other criteria can be incorporated. In the context of mandatory licenses, it should be an obligation for all companies providing services in the delivery of letters and parcels to report to national regulatory authorities in a standardised manner on social data such as on the number of employees, the type of contractual agreements, employee turnover, and wage differentials, and social standards, including employment standards, as well as on environmental standards.
When ordering, the customer should be able to decide whether the goods may only be shipped via service providers who adhere to minimum standards, even if for a higher price. The cornerstones of this should be binding within the framework of the EU Postal Services Directive, in case it is revised.

8. As work becomes more and more digital and online based, the protection of employees’ personal data and privacy is more important than ever. Within the framework of the EU Postal Services Directive, but also beyond in the framework of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), employees must be protected from improper monitoring and intervention control of any digital technology used by the employer. Digital systems for the monitoring of employees and workers are to be rejected.

9. The importance of occupational health protection for employees in the postal and parcel industry should be particularly emphasised. In the national legislation of the Member States, appropriate framework conditions must be in place, through which all employees can, normally, maintain health until retirement age. Underpinning national framework conditions via ambitious and binding EU minimum standards would also make sense.

10. Framework conditions should be created in national legislation according to which employees in the postal and parcel industry whose jobs are endangered by advancing digitisation are granted the right to further training. This also requires the involvement of the social partners in the strategic (re) orientation and restructuring of companies, which may be necessary in the course of digitisation and which may make further training necessary, e.g. in the process of the development of new business areas. The employer should be made more responsible with regard to the duty of care for her/his employees. It should be avoided that companies restructure themselves at the expense of the general public (unemployment of/social welfare for staff simply laid off). As a basis for national regulations, ambitious EU minimum standards for further training for staff in the postal sector would be desirable.

The full position of CESI is available here.