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European Transport Workers' Federation
ETF HomeInland Waterways > ETF Rivercruise

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ETF Rivercruise

NEW ETF/ITF Rivercruise Inspector appointed – Werner KIEPE

The ETF and the ITF welcome the appointment of Werner KIEPE (53) as the inland waterways and rivercruise inspector based in Düsseldorf, Germany.

Werner is an official of ver.di, the German Union which represent under its banner transport workers and actively participates in the international activity of both the ITF and ETF. Werner comes from an inland navigation family and has worked for ÖTV and ver.di for the last 21 years, the last 15 years of which with responsibility for inland waterways, public transport and the river docks in Duisburg. His knowledge and skills in the waterways sector will certainly be an asset for the river cruise campaign.

The appointment of Werner is the demonstration that the ETF, with the support of the ITF is seriously committed to the goal of ensuring greater representation for the workers engaged in the river cruises sector and to follow up the good relationship with the river cruise operators to achieve international fair conditions for all workers.

Following his appointment Werner will, supported by the ETF/ITF Affiliates in European waterways, monitor river cruise activity and provide crew members  with a point of contact to report their concerns and issues, which we believe will be an added value for all those workers who may need to share their thoughts about contractual matters, legislation and or advice on personal issues related to their employment.

Werner Kiepe
ETF/ITF Inspector

c/o ver.di, Landesbezirk NRW
DE - 40210 Düsseldorf

Tel: +49 (0) 211 61824-373
Mobil: +49 (0) 171-7849761
Fax: +49 (0) 211 61824-374


To all workers in the inland cruise sector; Business is booming in the European river cruise sector, with around 269 boats and ships attracting record numbers of passengers. However, many workers on these vessels are not enjoying any of the rewards they are helping create.

If you work on one of these vessels you have the right to be treated as a crew member, whether you're one of the maritime crew who navigate it or the service crew who deals with passengers (for example, cleaning cabins, preparing and serving food or working in other passenger assistance/entertainment functions).

Inland cruise fleets are growing and among some of them the resulting competition has led to costs being cut. Crews have reported that this can lead to:

  • Fewer people serving more passengers
  • Overcrowding of cabins, with up to four people sharing one small room
  • Recruitment of workers from abroad who have had to pay crewing agents in their home countries to find them a job
  • Harder work and longer hours
  • Different wages for the same job, depending on which country the worker is from
  • A lack of medical and other social security provisions

For years trade unions have fought against conditions like these on ocean going ships and now they are determined to prevent the inland cruise sector lowering its standards. The ITF, and its European arm the ETF, have launched a campaign to fight against unfair competition, and for decent living and working conditions on board vessels operating in this highly successful business.

With your help we can defend the rights of the 20,000 people working on European river cruise vessels. You can help yourself by joining a trade union. Below you will find the contact details for unions that will protect your rights, irrespective of your nationality, race, or gender.

We are here to help you to protect your safe and fair employment.


1. Your representative

The union represents you (negotiates on your behalf) on issues like salary, living conditions, leave, hours of work and rest and social security matters.

2. Legal advice

Your union will provide a European network of lawyers who can provide free and immediate advice to full members on employment-related matters.

3. Workplace support

Your union, as well as the ETF/ITF, provides expert advice on work-related problems such as contracts, redundancy, bullying or discrimination, non-payment of salary and sick leave.

4. Safety and welfare

Your union, as well as the ETF/ITF, plays a vital role in national and international discussions concerning hours of work, manning levels, shipboard conditions, vessel design and technical and training standards.

5. Saving

Being a member of a union allows you to profit from various discounts, like travel and specialist insurance and many other special offers. These savings might be more than the monthly union contribution.

6. Help is near

As a member of a union, help is around the corner - wherever you are in Europe. There are union offices in every main town on the Rhine and Danube. Union officials make regular shipboard visits to their members, and support and advice is available through Europe's union network (of colleagues in Europe).

7. Your union, your voice

Your union is the voice of its members working in the river cruise industry, as well as the union for the shipping industry. And the more members there are - the stronger your voice.

Join a union - it makes sense!



ETF/ITF River Cruise Inspector – Ver.di 

Werner Kiepe

Tel: +49 (0)211 61 824 251
Fax: +49 (0)211 61 824 374
Mobile: +49 (0)171 78 49 761
Email: kiepe_werner@itf.org.ukwerner.kiepe@verdi.de
Web: www.verdi.de


ITF - Netherlands FOC- Office – Rotterdam

Debbie Klein +31 (0)653 182734
Aswin Noordermeer +31 (0)653 337522
Ruud Touwen +31 (0)653 315072
Email: touwen_ruud@itf.org.uk

Nautilus International – Rotterdam

Tel: +31(0)104 771188
Fax: +31 (0)104 773846
Email: infonl@nautilusint.org
Web: www.nautilusnl.org


ACV-Transcom – Antwerp

Tel: +32 (0)2 549 1177
Fax: +32 (0)2 549 1117
Email: jkerkhofs.transcom@acv-csc.be

Belgische Transportarbeidersbond BTB – Antwerp

Tel: +32 (0)3 224 3411
Fax: +32 (0)3 224 3439
Email: jacques.kerkhof@btb-abvv.be


FTTUB – Sofia

Tel: +3592 931 51 24
Fax: +3592 831 71 24
Email: d.sokolova@stsb.bg
Web: www.stsb.bg



Tel: +33 (0)1 56 41 56 02
Fax: +33 (0)1 42 02 49 96
Email: latron@fgte-cfdt.org


Nautilus International – Basel

Tel: +41 (0)61 262 24 24
Fax: +41 (0)61 262 24 25
Email: nbramley@nautilusint.org
Web: www.nautilusch.org

Galerie AGORA, Rue du Marché aux Herbes 105, Boîte 11 B - 1000 Bruxelles  |  +32 2 285 46 60   |  etf@etf-europe.org
Galerie AGORA, Rue du Marché aux Herbes 105, Boîte 11 B - 1000 Bruxelles  |  +32 2 285 46 60   |  etf@etf-europe.org