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Road transport workers’ unions join global fight for Safe Rates

news 26 Sep 2023

Sixty-three unions representing road transport workers from 39 countries last week committed to joining the struggle for ‘Safe Rates’, coinciding with the launch of the ITF’s Global Safe Rates campaign in Seoul, South Korea.

The campaign is calling on governments, road transport employers and industry stakeholders to commit to a system of Safe Rates which would lead to improvements in working time and pay for commercial vehicle drivers. Studies have shown that these changes would not only dramatically improve conditions for drivers, but also translate to significantly safer roads for everyone who uses them.

The location for the launch in South Korea was chosen in solidarity with the Cargo Truckers Solidarity Division of the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union (KPTU-TruckSol), an ITF affiliate which has been at the forefront of the fight for Safe Rates for years. The right-wing government of Yoon Suk Yeol elected last year has not only scrapped previous advances but has launched a vicious program of anti-union intimidation and harassment against KPTU-TruckSol members and other labour unions.

Delegates at the launch from Belgium, Denmark, Canada, Australia, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda joined Korean truck drivers at a mass rally on Saturday (September 23) outside the Korean National Assembly building, calling on the government to pass legislation to re-introduce Korea’s Safe Rates system. Several union leaders from around the world, including ITF General Secretary Steve Cotton, addressed the rally, bringing solidarity and pledging to take up the fight in their own countries.

In the run up to the launch, a number of unions in other countries organised their own rallies and events. For example, India’s Shree Kutch General Mazdoor Sangh (SKGMS) organised a mass ‘drivers’ festival’ and local rallies and press conferences. Nepal’s NETWON organised mass outreach exercises to speak to a broad range of road transport workers, including fuel lorry, bus, and taxi drivers. Transport unions in Indonesia and Pakistan also carried out outreach activities in conjunction with the campaign launch.  In Canada, mass rallies of Unifor members working for DHL took place across the country. In Brazil, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Côte D’Ivoire, Pakistan and many other countries, unions organised events and activities to raise the profile of the campaign for Safe Rates and delivered the campaign demands to governments and industry stakeholders.

The launch comes just weeks after a major campaign victory for the Transport Workers’ Union of Australia (TWU), with the Albanese Labour Government having recently introduced groundbreaking legislation to deliver fair and safe standards for pay and working conditions for all road transport workers. Speaking from the stage at the rally on 23 September, Michael Kaine, the National Secretary of the TWU, told Korean truck drivers:

“When it passes, this new Safe Rates system in Australia will be all encompassing covering all road transport workers regardless of their form of employment or the type of vehicle they drive and including road transport workers in the gig economy. This is a huge victory for road transport workers across Australia. But it is also your victory. Your fight and the example you have set has given us the strength to come this far.” 

ITF Safe Rates Global Statement of Demands 

The ITF Global Campaign ‚ "Safe Rates save lives", calls on governments, client companies and transport operators around the world to work with unions to implement the following plan:   

01. Safe Rates systems: Establish new systems and/or strengthen existing systems for setting fair and safe standards for pay and conditions. These systems must engage all supply chain parties, including client companies, and cover all road transport workers irrespective of form of employment, nationality, and gender.   

02. A fair price for transport: Ensure that all road transport workers are paid fairly for all time worked and transport operators and workers who own their own vehicles can recover their costs without skimping on safety. 

03. Strengthened transparency: Ensure that all road transport workers have access to written labour and/or service contracts that detail fair and safe payment and conditions of work. 

04. Active compliance and remedy of violations: Ensure active inspection, verification of compliance, and remedy of violations, including enforcement of penalty clauses, binding on all supply chain parties (client companies, transport operators, workers in all forms of employment, etc.). Implement due diligence regimes based on cooperation between unions and companies to complement robust inspection and enforcement by public authorities. Ensure that all road transport workers have access to effective procedures for dispute resolution, which cover and are binding on all supply chain parties.   

05. Trade union rights: Recognise the vital role played by democratic trade unions in furthering safety and sustainability in road transport supply chains, ensure that all road transport workers have access to representation by democratic trade unions, and facilitate the role of trade unions in worker education, monitoring and enforcement, and improving health and safety.   

06. Global standards: Implement the ILO Guidelines on the Promotion of Decent Work and Road Safety, including through ratification and enforcement of related ILO Conventions on pay, hours of work and rest periods, violence and harassment and occupational health and safety. 

Signatory Unions

Transport Workers' Union of Australia (TWU)

Asry Labour Union (ALU)Alba Trade Union (ATU)

Belgian Transport Workers' Union (BTB-ABVV) Confederation of Christian Trade Unions (CSC) – Transcom (ACV – TRANSCOM)

Federation of Transport Trade Unions in Bulgaria (FTTUB)

Confederacao Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Transportes e Logistica (CNTTL)Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Transportes Terrestres (CNTTT)

Unifor (UNIFOR)Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW)Teamsters Canada (Teamsters Canada)

National Union of DHL Chile S.A. Workers (Union No. 1) (SINDICATO N ° 1)

Trade Union Action For Development (Syndicat ACTIONS)


National Amalgamated Transport and Logistics Workers’ Union of Colombia (SNTT)

United Federation of Workers in Denmark (3F)

Dominica Public Service Union (DPSU)

General Independent Trade Union of Public Transport Authority and Great Cairo Bus Network (GTUPT)

Force Ouvrière National Transport and Logistics Federation (FO Transports et Logistique)CGT National Federation of Transport Unions FNST CGT

General Transport, Petroleum & Chemical Workers' Union of TUC (GTPCWU-TUC)

National Union of Public, Private and Amalgamated Drivers and Moped Riders (SIMAPPA)

All India Railwaymen's Federation (AIRF)Shree Kutch General Mazdoor Sangh (SKGMS)Shivsangram Taxi and Rickshaw Union (STRU)

Federation of Oil Unions in Iraq (IFOU)

Italian Federation of Transport Workers (FILT-CGIL)Italian Transport Federation - CISLUILTRASPORTI (UILT)

All-Japan Federation of Transport Workers' Unions (UNYU ROREN)Japan Federation of Transport Workers' Unions JFT (KOTSU-ROREN)SEINO TRANSPORTATION WORKER’S UNION

Transport Workers Union Kenya (TAWU)Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers & Allied Workers UnionMatatu Workers Union (MWU)Kenya Hotels and Allied Workers’ Union (KHAWU)

Korean Public Service and Transport Workers' Union (KPTU)

Workers Union in the Ministry of Transportation (WUMT)

Nepal Transport Labour Association (Nepal Yatayat Mazdoor Sangh) (NETWON)

First Union (Inc) (FIRST UNION)

National Aviation, Logistics and Amalgamated Workers' Union of the Republic of Panama (SIELAS)Captains' and Deck Officers' Union (UCOC)

All Pakistan Civil Transport Workers' Union (APCTWU)

General Union for Transport Workers (GUTW)Palestine Bus Drivers General Union (PBDGU)

National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA)

wedish Transport Workers' Union (STF)


Transport Federation (FT/UDTS)

CCOO Citizenship Services Federation (FSC-CCOO)General Workers' Union State Federation of Services, Mobility & Consumption (FeSMC-UGT)

Communication & Transport Workers' Union of Tanzanian (COTWU - T)

Lomé Independent Port Workers' Union (SYNTRAPAL)Union des Routiers du Togo (URT)Shipping, Aviation and Transit Company Workers' Union of Togo (STRANAVITTO)

All Transport Workers' Union of Turkiye (TUMTIS)Trade Union of Revolutionary Land Transportation Workers of Turkiye  (NAKLİYAT-İŞ)

Amalgamated Transport and General Workers' Union (ATGWU)

Unite The Union (UNITE)GMB (GMB)Communication Workers Union (CWU)

Transport Workers' Union of America (TWU)International Brotherhood of the Teamsters (IBT)