The new directive proposal of the European Commission intends to exempt self-employed drivers from the existing Road Transport (Working Time) Regulations. The consequence for HGV drivers: employed drivers would be even more pushed into pseudo self-employment than is currently the case. The working time restrictions defined in the directive would not apply to them, opening the way to an 86-hour week. On Tuesday, the European Parliament - supported by the votes of the Social Democrats, the Greens, the United Left and some liberal MEPs - came out against the Directive proposal, thereby rejecting it for the time being. Only the European People’s Party, with very few exceptions, was solid in supporting the Commission proposal.
From 23rd March 2009, the currently existing Directive on “Working time of persons performing mobile road transport activities” provides for self-employed drivers also having to adhere to the working time regulations included in the legal text. Apart from driving time this also contains the time for administrative tasks as well as for loading and unloading HGVs. The new Directive proposal, however, provides for self-employed drivers not being subject to the working time regulations.

If the proposed text had been accepted in accordance with the Commission’s wishes it would have meant working times of up to 86 hours both for self-employed drivers and (bogus self-employed drivers). Based on the danger of overtiredness of HGV drivers, road safety, in the truest sense of the word, would have fallen by the wayside. Even today, most accidents involving HGVs are the result of overtiredness.

The rejection was also able to prevent a worsening situation with respect to night work. So far the directive provided for night work only to consist of at least 4 hours, the Commission has now proposed that working during night hours can only be called night work, if it consists of more than 2 hours.

Following the link below, you can read on pages 16 and 17 which MEPs supported a rejection of the new Directive proposal (vote with +) and which came out against the rejection of the Commission text (vote with -):

Voting results

Paradoxically, the Directive proposal - in accordance with the parliamentary law of the European Parliament - has now been referred back to the Employment Committee. There, the Committee must once again report to Parliament and reject the legal text. Only if the Commission, as a result of the rejection in Parliament, withdraws its Directive proposal, the Directive is definitely deemed as having failed.