"E-commerce is the big culprit."

PostNL

In recent weeks, the social inspectorate raided PostNL and GLS in an investigation into social fraud, child labor, undeclared work ... As a result of these investigations, certain warehouses were temporarily sealed. There was a lot of reaction to that. Some with knowledge of the facts, others rather brief.

We neither want to minimize these problems nor to justify them if it turns out that violations have actually occurred. It is precisely for this reason that a legislative framework exists to protect people in their working environment, both employees and the self-employed.

What does bother us is the generalization of the industry: e-commerce as the big culprit. E-commerce, as a relatively new economy, is often put down as modern slavery and parasitism of the world. A rather heavy statement, but there are quite a few fingers pointing at our sector.

"Global warming is to blame for the increasing number of vans on the road due to e-commerce."

E-commerce is indeed causing a significant increase in traffic and, in the short term, is a burden on the environment. At the same time, it is precisely this sector that is investing - on its own initiative - huge amounts of money and research to drastically reduce its footprint.

Online purchases have become an integral part of our lives and the sector will continue to grow and evolve. In parallel with this irreversible evolution, it is also advisable as a society to reflect on our own behavior. Everyone expects transportation to be free or as cheap as possible. The commitment to
pay for green solutions is rather an exception and due to the lack of a European framework, governments allow foreign initiatives where 'free' even goes beyond decency.

But there is no such thing as "free. The appetite to keep investing in green solutions - without being compensated for it - is not infinite. That bill - no matter how bad - will always have to be settled by someone.

"E-commerce is the cause of unfair labor and encourages modern slavery"

First of all, it is important to mention that the workload will not be much higher than in other environments and sectors. What is a fact is that e-commerce often faces strong peaks and valleys that are not always easy to absorb.

On the other hand, is there a competitive legal framework that strikes the right balance between the needs of the sector and the protection of our workers? Unfortunately not ... Europe must also take the lead in this area. We need to move towards a European level playing field. Moreover, in terms of wage costs, Belgium is one of the
most expensive countries. So we will have to fight today with other means than price.

This is easier said than done, especially when we remain blind to developments outside Europe and within the walls of a few giants that increasingly dominate the market. We seem to find it normal that Belgian companies have to launch campaigns to buy Belgian. It is the governments who, through their indecision, are widening the gap and reducing consumer awareness.

Without putting ourselves in a Calimero position, we want to call attention to the situation as it is today. Because tomorrow must be different. We are not blind to the problems in our relatively new, young sector, let alone to our own mistakes. At the same time, we firmly believe that our sector in Belgium can continue to develop in a structurally sound manner and
. If we want to achieve this, it is essential that we are heard as a sector, both by consumers and by our governments and Europe.

Therefore, do not immediately condemn the entire e-commerce on the basis of mistakes and crimes, but also ask yourself what role you yourself can play in the enormous struggle we face.

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