Logistics Systems and the Use of the Contract of Carriage to Circumvent the Labour Protection Law.

Logistics Systems and the Use of the Contract of Carriage to Circumvent the Labour Protection Law.


Chiara Tincani, 1965


The aim of my project is to reflect upon one of the most relevant issues about supply chain; a contract of carriage very often hides a contract of dependent work.


In a globalised economy, logistics systems and structures are growing in importance, with the distribution all over the world of goods from groups capable of operating at global level. In these circumstances labour protection has become especially difficult, even within the European Union, due to the growing trend seeing the drop in wage levels, in accordance with quite widespread practices. The use of the contract of carriage for the execution of a growing portion of logistics activities would prevent carriers (or purported carriers) from claiming the protection pertaining specifically to the employment relationship, in such a way that a typical form of “disguised employment” would arise, or, if you like, of “dependent self-employment”, according to the convincing classification found in the ILO's report “Non – standard employment around the world”.
The use of a contract of carriage is imposed by large undertakings precisely to avoid the application of the law for the protection of employees, to reduce costs and consequently bring about a relevant drop in the levels of protection and paid remuneration. The phenomenon, which is typical of the Italian system, is now present and widespread throughout the European logistics systems. At least three questions arise in connection with this phenomenon, which we intend to explore:
a. Should the classification criteria of the contract be identified at national level, in order to distinguish the contract of carriage from the employment contract? Or should there be a supranational contribution – for instance at EU level – in order to avoid the systematic imposition of a carriage contract just to lower the levels of protection?
b. Having defined the real contracts of carriage (which must be envisaged in any case, as this is a negotiating model that any contemporary legal system must provide), should the forms of minimum protection for the carrier be set at national level, or should there be a supranational contribution for the establishment of a minimum level of safeguarding which would prevent forms of so-called social dumping?
c. Within the framework of protection policies for the more vulnerable social areas, would the present EU strategy, quite narrow-scoped and restrictive concerning the setting-up of protection forms for the carrier, in particular in terms of fees, find merit and justification, considering the systematic use of such negotiating model to the detriment of the model being adopted for employment?


Association for European Transport