Of all infrastructure sectors, the products and markets of the transport industry are most varied. There are several distinct transport products: road transport
, air transport
, rail transport
, mass rapid transport and many kinds of informal transport. They serve different passenger and freight transport needs and in different ways. They are often combined by customers themselves or by specialist brokers to produce a single door-to-door passenger trip or freight movement.
The transport services sector in the European Union is an important industry in its own right, employing 8.2 million people in 2004. Over the years, the amount of employment per unit of transport has steadily declined, mainly because of technological change, gradually more relaxed work rules and smaller sizes of crews in aviation and railways. An increase in the number of hours of active duty has also played a role, as in the case of long-distance road freight, despite national and international efforts to curb this trend. There has been a drive for increased flexibility in occupational functions and working time arrangements.
The increase in road and rail traffic across borders brings about a new set of challenges concerning the legal and social protection of workers abroad, standards on working conditions and health and safety, and efforts to harmonize national laws and practices.
As a result of the present changes in the transport sector, labour relations have become more diversified. These processes have increased pressure on employers’ organizations and trade unions to pay attention to new issues, in both political and technical terms. In addition, these developments have drawn attention to the potential role of and constraints to the development of new institutional arrangements for labour-management consultation and social dialogue beyond the national level.