We want to set the record straight on some fake news going around about last week’s vote in the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) on the working conditions of truck drivers.
Let’s take some quotes from the European Transport Federation of Workers (ETF).
And let's be clear: we applaud workers' federations and unions who stand up for workers’ rights and push to advance those rights on our continent, but let’s try to stick to the facts.
The ETF states that the TRAN vote would “mean less rest every month, with employers able to keep drivers on the road for three weeks with no more than 24 hours’ rest.”
This is NOT TRUE. This would be illegal under all circumstances. The total amount of the driver’s rest per week was not reduced in the TRAN vote. Every third weekend a driver can go home and their employer has to facilitate that. Every four weeks a driver has minimum 8 days of rest. The maximum daily, weekly and 2-week driving times or the daily rest times were NOT changed.
The ETF states: “If this decision stands, professional drivers will have less rest per month, with longer periods away from home.”
This is NOT TRUE. All groups wanted to tackle the problem of ‘nomadic driving’. The right to return home within three weeks is a massive step forward for workers’ rights in road transport. Weekend rest should be taken in special parking places, equipped with the best facilities, improving the quality of the rest and giving drivers dignified resting conditions.
The ETF states: “It is shocking that MEPs have voted to overturn a recent ECJ ruling against drivers spending their long breaks in their vehicle.”
The European Parliament is a legislator that produces legislation on which the ECJ can base its judgments. The European Parliament actually even expands on the ECJ ruling by adding the reduced weekly rest to the ban. However, as an exception, weekly rest can only be taken in the cabin if the truck is parked in a well-equipped parking place. Otherwise a driver should sleep in a hotel or private location. This will radically improve the quality of the working conditions of drivers on the road.
The ETF states: “The European Union has recently been congratulating itself for guaranteeing workers who are sent to another country the same pay as local employees for the same work. Why on earth do road transport workers not deserve the same equality?”
Drivers are definitely not excluded from the fair pay principle. Drivers who are hired as a temporary agent or in an intra-group transfer are covered by the general Posting of Workers Directive. Also, in cabotage operations (within a Member State), a majority supported applying the posting rules from day one, with a maximum duration of the cabotage of 48 hours. This would be a radical change in the existing legislation, to the benefit of drivers.
Also, a rigid and protectionist system would undermine the competitiveness of our companies and expose them to competition from third countries like Ukraine and Turkey. Which is why a majority in TRAN believes that strengthening enforcement and working conditions for international transport is the right approach.
The result in the Committee on Transport and Tourism was an important compromise. Between advancing workers’ rights and working conditions on one hand and maintaining competitiveness and a functioning Single Market (which is the fundament of wealth and job creation in the EU) on the other.
We believe this is a positive step forward for Europe. We stand with the majority in the TRAN committee and will defend it in plenary if necessary.