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Nautilus welcomes new framework agreement on river cruise working conditions

8 March 2024

The European Transport Workers Federation (ETF) has succeeded in signing a declaration of principles to improve working conditions with the European River Cruise Industry Association (IG River Cruise) and the European Barge Union (EBU).

The agreement, to which Nautilus’s Switzerland and Netherlands branches also contributed, was signed on 6 March during the ITB international tourism fair in Berlin. Negotiations started after the signing of a declaration of intent in the summer of 2019, in which parties jointly agreed to address a number of issues in the river cruise industry, but the process was delayed by the pandemic.

The goal of the framework agreement is to achieve a socially sustainable river cruise sector with a level playing field for operators, in the interests of both employers and employees in the sector. It deals with the fundamental rights of workers, social security, salaries, health and safety requirements, crewing agents’ fees, contract and travel documents, access to vessels and complaints procedures. It sets out basic principles but does not yet contain binding standards.

‘What is needed now are concrete, legally binding agreements – such as those that already exist in collective bargaining agreements (CBA) between our trade union and some individual employers – or laws at the national level,’ said Nautilus Switzerland national organiser Holger Schatz.

‘With this in mind, we hope that the agreement that has now been reached will give new impetus to our efforts to reach more legally binding agreements with other shipping companies.’

Jacques Kerkhof, chair of the ETF Inland Waterways Section, said the agreement is an first important step for the improvement of the livelihoods of thousands of workers: ‘In particular, the ETF welcomes the reconfirmation of the applicability of social security rules, health and safety, and a harassment-free environment, as well as the freedom to join a trade union and access of unions to the workplace. We hope to continue to build a fair European river cruise sector and mutual trust with our employer counterparts through the implementation of this agreement.’


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