Inland waterway transport is a major contributor to the European economy. The continent has more than 37,000km of waterways connecting cities, regions and countries.

The European Commission aims to promote and strengthen the position of inland waterways within the overall European transportation network in order to increase its modal share.

Inland waterways are a competitive alternative to road and rail transport because water transport is environmentally friendly in terms of energy consumption (17% of road transport) and noise and gas emissions. The sector can ensure a high standard of safety when it comes to transporting dangerous goods. And the costs of inland navigation have been shown to be lower than alternative means of freight transport.

The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Russia are major players in the European inland navigation sector. The European Transport Workers' Federation brings together trade union officers and representatives defending the interests of workers in the inland navigation sector - on both freight and passenger vessels.

Nautilus International currently provides representation to around 700 workers in the European inland navigation sector in the UK, The Netherlands and Switzerland, making us the largest inland navigation union in western Europe. We also have collective bargaining agreements with some major inland navigation employers.

Many of the issues facing workers in the sector are similar to those facing crews in the international shipping industry - including pay, long working hours, health and safety, training, social security and living and working conditions.

Inland navigation workers continue to face such unanswered questions as which labour law applies to them. With Nautilus International now active at both ends of the Rhine, we are constantly improving our ability to deal with these challenges.

If you are in Switzerland and wish to find out more, or if you are already a Nautilus member and require assistance, please contact us.

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