One step closer to better working conditions for truck drivers in Europe

After protracted internal negotiations the transport ministers of the Member States adopted, at a Council meeting on December 4, a common position on a reform of working conditions for truck drivers in Europe, as part of a broader ‘Europe on the Move’ mobility package proposed by the European Commission in 2017. According to CESI, the position can be the basis for better employment conditions in road transport in Europe.

The position of the Council (‘general approach’) is the basis for negotiations with the European Parliament on final legislative provisions which would, after a transition period, become binding in all EU Member States.

According to the Council’s general approach, haulier enterprises should become obliged to:

• organise the drivers’ work schedules in such a way that they are able to return home at least every four weeks – or, if the driver chooses to take two reduced weekly rests, after three weeks on the road;
• ensure the provision of regular weekly rest for truck drivers outside the cabin (e.g. via hotel accomodation);
• implement the principle of the same pay for the same work at the same place, with the general rule being that if an operation is organised in such a way that the link between the driver’s work and the country of establishment remains intact, the driver should be excluded from the EU’s posting rules (e.g. in the case of bilateral transport operations or transit), but that for all other types of operations, including cabotage, the full posting regime would apply from the first day of the operation. An exception would be that on the way to the destination country and on the way back, one additional activity of loading/unloading is permitted in both directions without falling under the posting regime, or zero on the way out and up to two on the way back.

In a first reaction, CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger said: “As CESI, we clearly welcome the Council’s decision as a step towards better employment conditions in road transport and for truck drivers, whose working conditions are often precarious.

We know hope for a swift negotiation mandate from the side of the European Parliament so that there is a prospect for better employment conditions in road transport and that truck drivers in Europe will enjoy real new benefits soon.” He added: “The propositions in the Council’s general approach would not end all problems of truck drivers but they are definitely a step in the right direction and to build on during negotiations with the European Parliament. They are a remarkable achievement of the Council, given the scope of the diverse concerns of different Member States that had to be reconciled. In the end the Council’s position is the result of finding a balance between a better protection of workers, demanded especially by Western Member States, and the maintenance of competitiveness of the hauliers, advocated mainly by Eastern Member States.”

More information is available on the Council’s website.

Picture: CESI Secretary General Klaus Heeger © CESI 2018