European Commission, Council and Parliament are currently negotiating the final version of the so-called Mobility Package within the trilogue process. A debate in the Employment Committee on the current state of the negotiations showed that many key issues are still open. However, from the AK’s point of view there are many red lines, which have to be taken into consideration to ensure that the Package does indeed improve drivers’ working conditions and that wage and social dumping is effectively combatted.
On 12th November 2019, the rapporteurs on applying the Posting of Workers Directive in the road transport sector (“Lex Specialis”) as well as on driving times and rest periods answered questions on trilogue negotiations relating to both these dossiers of the Mobility Package at the European Parliament’s Employment Committee. The rapporteur on driving times and rest periods, Dennis Radtke (EPP), emphasised the necessity of urgent introduction of the latest generation of “intelligent” tachographs to ensure that existing rules can be controlled. He also backed the idea that road transport rules should also apply to vehicles of 2.4 tons or more if they are used in goods transport to avoid that they are bypassed by using smaller lorries. The Social Democrat MEPs, Agnes Jongerius and Marianne Vind, pointed out that rest periods were needed to protect drivers and to assist road safety and that therefore they were unable to accept any relaxing of the rules concerning the weekly rest period, as it was debated in trilogue.
The Chamber of Labour also agrees: the regular weekly rest period of 45 hours must continue to be taken after two weeks at the latest. Several shorter consecutive rest periods of 24 hours would further worsen drivers’ working conditions and have a negative impact on road safety. Apart from this, the rules on driving times and rest periods have to state unequivocally that after three weeks at the latest drivers have to spend their weekly rest period at their place of residence to prevent drivers from “voluntarily” choose another location. One thing is clear: if drivers “voluntarily” would not be able to spend their rest period at home, it would automatically lead to immense pressure on drivers to choose a closer location in order not to lose their job. The new rules on driving times and rest periods must also explicitly ban drivers’ flat rate pay.
In the AK’s opinion no foul compromises must be allowed concerning tachographs and controls: in order to be able to stem wage and social dumping it must be possible to control existing and future rules. To achieve this, it is vital to introduce intelligent tachographs of the latest generation, which automatically record border crossings as well as loading and unloading locations, in international transport by 2024. The argument of the transport industry that it will not be possible to fit all HGVs in international transport with this latest generation of tachographs within four years, is in the AK’s opinion just a delaying tactic. Rapporteur Dennis Radtke put it in a nutshell: “The European Parliament is here for law-making, and it has to make laws to ensure that technology is developed further.”
In order to be able to determine any breaches of the existing rules, it must be ensured from the AK’s point of view that complete documentation of activities of the past four weeks (probably 7 weeks in future) will be provided. Attempts - under the pretext of cutting red tape - only to attest absences (e.g. holidays, sick leave) starting from one week, would in practice open the door to abuse, as everybody who was checked could falsely claim not to have worked, without the control authorities being able to verify this.
From the AK’s point of view, the exemptions on the Application of the Posting of Workers Directive for the transport sector (“Lex Specialis“), as they are currently negotiated in trilogue, are going too far. If in case of cross-border journeys through Europe, including two sessions of loading and unloading, the principle of “equal pay for equal work in the same workplace” should not apply, wage and social dumping on Europe’s roads would increase rather than be stemmed.
Apart from that, innovations regarding cabotage (internal transports by foreign companies) are also debated within the scope of the Mobility Package. In the AK’s view it is essential to continue to provide for a maximum amount of cabotage journeys. The proposal to limit cabotage to a certain period, however, without limiting the number of journeys, would put additional pressure on drivers. AK also demands that the Member States have to provide for a minimum number of controls concerning cabotage.
Clear rules for companies, which repeatedly violate existing provisions, are also required. There is an extensive list of criteria as to when Member States have to revoke licenses in cases where companies are guilty of offenses. However, this list of criteria should not be binding, but voluntary for Member States. The AK regards voluntariness regarding the application of the list of criteria as completely unacceptable.
The Chamber of Labour urges the negotiators of Commission, Council and Parliament to take these issues into consideration within the scope of the trilogue meetings. Only in this case the Mobility Package would be able to make a contribution to effectively combatting wage and social dumping on Europe’s roads.