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EU RULES FOR DRIVERS COULD CHANGE

Oct 19 2016

Transport ministers from a number of European states have written to EU Transport commissioner to highlight their growing concerns over alleged violations of EU labour laws and illegal business practices within the road haulage sector, which they claim has led to unfair competition and ‘social dumping’.

The ministers, from Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg and non-member Norway, claim that “the fundamental rights such as the free movement of goods and services, which we wholeheartedly support, are increasingly being invoked in a abusive way in order to avoid conforming to European regulations, which are the guarantee of fair competition in the internal market”.

The ministers have also drawn attention to the emergence in the sector of so-called ‘letterbox companies’ - set up to circumvent legal and collective agreement obligations in another EU country - “whose unfair business practices are more and more frequent”.

They make a number of recommendations to the commissioner, which include prohibiting drivers from sleeping in their vehicles during designated weekly rest periods, stepping up and harmonising checks on HGVs, introducing measures to put an end to ‘shell company’ activity as well as action to curb the growing trend of light commercial vehicles (vans) carrying out international transport operations. By the very nature of the transport industry, many of its workers are highly mobile and this creates issues such as, what salaries should drivers be paid when working in 10 different countries in a single month?

Germany and France have taken unilateral steps to impose their minimum wage regulations on international road haulage firms in a bid to quash 'social dumping' practices. But the Commission reacted by instigating infringement proceedings against the two member states.

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