From an employee’s point of view, the vote by the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN) on 4th June 2018 as regards to the laying down specific rules Directive for posting drivers in the road transport sector (Lex Specialis) and the regulation on driving times and rest periods for professional drivers produced catastrophic results. Instead of sending a strong signal against social dumping on Europe’s roads, the majority of MEPs voted in favour of greater competition at the expense of employees in road transport.
It had been the original objective of the Commission to use the proposal on applying the Directive for posting drivers in the road transport sector ('Lex Specialis') and on the Regulation as regards driving times and rest periods for professional drivers to improve the working conditions of drivers. The idea was to increase road safety and to create fairer competition on Europe’s roads.
These objectives were confirmed by the majority of the Committee on Employment EMPL in April this year; the Committee also provided for significant improvements compared to the Commission proposal. However, on 4th June, the Committee on Transport and Tourism (TRAN), which has the last word regarding these dossiers, completely ignored these improvements, subordinating the report’s orientation to flexibilisation for transport companies at the expense of the workforce.
In concrete terms, the TRAN report on applying the Directive for posting drivers in the road transport sector (‘Lex Specialis’) says that the remuneration provisions of the respective country whose roads are used for international transport are never to be applied. This means that drivers from low-wage countries may work for weeks and months in high-wage countries without being able to claim the minimum wage of these countries. With regard to bus transport, this regulation shall even apply to domestic transport services by foreign companies, the so-called “cabotage”. Hence, a Bulgarian company would be able to continuously carry people from Vienna to Bregenz whilst paying its drivers the Bulgarian minimum wage.
The report on the regulation as regards driving times and rest periods for professional drivers is also anything but pro-employee. In order to reach the company site, it shall be possible to extend the maximum daily driving time by two hours in future. By extending the reference period for the weekly rest period from 2 to 4 weeks, drivers will hereafter be able to drive for 3 continuous weeks, without having to take a regular weekly rest period of 45 hours. Apart from that, it shall also be possible with regards to domestic bus transport to deploy drivers unrestricted on 12 consecutive days without a rest day. In addition, drivers shall be permitted to spend the regular weekly rest period of at least 45 hours in the driver cabin, if their vehicle is parked on a car park with minimum facilities.
However, there was good news on 14th June 2018: the majority of MEPs voted against opening the trilogue negotiations on the basis of the TRAN reports. This means that the final vote in plenary session of Parliament will take place in the first week of July, finally determining the position Parliament will adopt toward the Council and the European Commission. The Chamber of Labour calls on all MEPs to vote in favour of the position of the Committee on Employment to genuinely tackle social dumping and to ensure that drivers are fairly paid.