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Working cultures in the face of intermodal freight transport systems


Even if the effect of the higher labour demand due to future traffic volume increases is taken into account, it is expected that developments in the freight transport sector will result in net losses considering the number of jobs in the industry; limited number of opportunities are offset by a large number of threats. -According to the various actors that have contributed to the WORKFRET research, the available EU legislation doesn't allow the support of intermodal developments and economic activity, while also ensuring acceptable employment conditions and safety. It is believed that the dual goal of keeping European transport companies competitive and protecting employees in the freight transport industry cannot be currently achieved. -The role of employees in freight transport changes radically, especially due to the introduction of new technologies and, in most cases, personnel needs to be retrained, or new personnel, with relevant knowledge and skills, needs to be hired. New training programmes should be designed, preferably tailor made, on a company level. -Regardless of transport mode, payment and benefits are seen as a key factor for the attraction of high quality employees to the freight transport sector. However, fair employment practices and equal opportunities are still necessary and the demand for linking rewards to quality improvements is becoming more intense. -Due to the introduction of new systems in the organisation, the employee might find himself/ herself in more demanding situations, especially when there is a combination of increased productivity objectives and new required employee knowledge and skills. Excessive stress can lead to errors and accidents and, most importantly, will have a negative long-term effect on the employee's health. -The transitional phase in European freight transport has to be met by suitable recruitment procedures in order for the European integration to increase economic efficiency and create new opportunities. However, there are currently strong obstacles to recruitment (such as monopoly on recruitment services etc.), and national educational/ vocational systems are rather not prepared for such social changes. -A more skilled and flexible workforce is essential to intermodal developments, which require both organisational and technological change. The management of this change process needs a positive attitude from all those involved and a team working culture. This can only be achieved if the workforce feels valued, has interesting work and is participating in the process. -The expansion and restructuring of freight transport has been accompanied by the decline of national systems of collective bargaining. There is a need to review the current provisions for normal employment relations at different levels and consider how some degree of harmonisation between collective agreements can be achieved. Collective bargaining procedures at a European level should be harmonised, while the decentralisation of the relevant processes should be also achieved. -By involving employees in the design & implementation phase and by periodically reviewing the results of the introduction of a new technology, an organisation might gain the user's acceptance and valuable input for further optimisation of the new technology. -An overall improvement is needed in employment conditions if the changes in work organisation and working culture identified elsewhere are to be achieved. The current emphasis on long, unsocial hours and uncertain prospects in the industry is not conductive to attracting the best labour force. The non-homogeneity of the legal situations makes it difficult for the social partners to act legally correct in the still "grey" and uncertain zone of international activities in social partnership. -The development of an intermodal transport system, with the emphasis on a modal shift to rail transport (and waterborne transport), is hindered by several problems. Rail transport is lagging the other modes of transport in terms of improvement of technology and logistical concepts: It is necessary to promote intermodality and sustainable transport in general and remove any barriers to change caused by impacts on working cultures.