Truck drivers could pay the price for EU compromise on posted workers

Two draft laws which will be voted on during the European Parliament’s plenary session on Thursday (14 June) could lead to more job insecurity for lorry drivers. reports.

The European left went against two texts adopted on Tuesday by the Parliament’s Transport Committee (TRAN) in Strasbourg, saying they could increase insecurity for lorry drivers if they were to be adopted during the plenary on 14 June.

It’s a potential setback coming from the posted workers’ directive negotiated in a tense context last year, which provides for the application of the principle of ‘equal work for equal pay’ for all workers in one country, regardless of nationality.

“Lorry drivers are not nomads of the road,” stated the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), which protested against the draft texts in Strasbourg.

European Parliament votes in favour of the revision on posted workers

After 27 months of negotiations, MEPs approved a revision of the posted workers directive, an issue which symbolises divisions between East and West in the EU. reports.

Posted Workers Directive

Under pressure from the right and the liberals, the final draft is to exclude the road transport sector from the Posted Workers Directive.

Another regulation adopted by the Transport Committee provides for the authorisation of a rest period for drivers in their vehicle, even though a ruling of the EU Court of Justice from 20 December 2017 prohibited this practice.

“Our aim is to tackle the continued deterioration of the working conditions of 1.9 million truck drivers,” Christine Revault d’Allonnes, the head of the French socialist MEPs, told a press conference, also calling for the freight road sector “not to become the poor relation of social rights“.

Roberto Parillo, a member of the ETF, was surprised to see that the text went against Juncker’s speech on social Europe delivered in October 2017. Parillo also highlighted the working conditions of drivers in Romania. “When you don’t work, you have nothing, when you are ill, you have nothing, when you are on holiday, you have nothing. It’s modern slavery.”

Political strategy ahead of EU elections?

This disagreement reveals more than just a left-right opposition, it also reveals a strong east/west division on the issue of the drivers’ salaries. Poland, particularly, has been pushing its companies to continue working across Europe with Polish salaries. Manfred Weber, the chair of the EPP group in the Parliament, himself sent a message to members of the EU’s right on the TRAN Committee to respect Poland’s position on the subject.

“Behind this vote, one can wonder if what is at work is a project for closer relations between the right EPP and the ECR group,” said Revault d’Allonnes. The European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group will lose most of its members with Brexit, and some members of the EPP are in favour of closer relations to consolidate their group for the next European elections in April 2019.

Dutch MEP Agnes Jongerius called on the rapporteur to review the draft before the plenary, stressing that without sufficient rest for drivers Europe was heading for an increase in road accidents.

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