Meeting with François Bausch, Minister of Mobility

Better working and salary conditions for staff are a prerequisite for the consistent expansion of public passenger transport

Recently, four structures of the OGBL and the Landesverband – Public Service OGBL/Landesverband Syndicate, Road Transport and Navigation-ACAL Syndicate, Railways FNCTTFEL-Landesverband Syndicate and the Public Service Department – held a meeting with the Minister of Mobility and his civil servants. The union representatives had requested this meeting based on information that within the framework of the reorganization of public passenger transport in the south of the country, there would be a reduction of the lines operated by TICE.

The trade union delegation criticized in this context the creeping tendency to replace publicly operated lines by lines operated by private bus companies, as well as the fact that the observed staff shortage, the constant overtime and the resulting absences due to illness (especially burnout) are mainly addressed by a deterioration of working conditions, by hiring new bus drivers in a less well paid status (municipal employees instead of municipal civil servants, private law instead of public). For OGBL and Landesverband, this is exactly the wrong way to proceed: career prospects, salary and working conditions must be improved in order to make the profession of bus driver more attractive again.

This is also in line with the government’s goals. During the meeting, the representatives of the Ministry explained the government’s plans to further expand public passenger transport, to increase complementarity between the various services and also to introduce more cross-border lines in the south of the country.

The representatives of the Ministry underlined that by 2035 it is expected that instead of 75,000 passengers today, 160,000 passengers per day will have to be transported. Also, a study has shown that a very large number of cross-border workers work in the south of the country, while until now cross-border passenger transport has been mainly focused on the city of Luxembourg.

It is therefore necessary to improve the complementarity of the various services, between the fast tram, to an increased frequency in rail transport, as well as to the additional cross-border lines, and thus to increase the overall capacity.

These efforts cannot be achieved without sufficient and satisfied staff.

Regarding the TICE, the representatives of the Ministry gave the all-clear to some extent: it is not yet clear whether there will really be a reduction in the number of lines operated by the TICE, as the negotiations with the Municipal Syndicate in this regard are still ongoing. The current convention is still in place until 2024.

Although the content of this convention is not yet known, it is clear that there will not be less service overall, given the capacity increases that will have to be provided. The representatives of the Ministry have underlined that in any case there would be no dismissals at TICE.

It is not up to the Ministry of Mobility to decide under which status new drivers should be hired at TICE, but the ball is clearly in the local authorities’ court.

The minister did not want to make any statement about the operator of the future tram line between Luxembourg and Esch-Belval; this decision would have to be made by his successor.

Other topics discussed during the meeting included the situation at the training center CFC (Centre de formation des conducteurs), which should be reorganized for the OGBL and receive additional regional branches, as well as the annoying and still largely unresolved question of access to toilets, especially for the RGTR bus drivers, but also for the drivers of the TICE. Even at a central hub such as Belval, this is currently not yet guaranteed.

This is also part of attractive working conditions for drivers. The representatives of the Ministry have assured to continue to influence the local authorities in this sense, especially since 50% of the costs are now covered by the state.

Communicated by the Syndicates Public Service OGBL/Landesverband, Road Transport-ACAL, Railways FNCTTFEL-Landesverband and the Public Service Department of the OGBL, on April 21, 2023.