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October 2015 - Once more, the ETF says "no" to weekly rest in the lorry!
As every year, in October, the ITF International Road Transport Action Week brings together thousands of drivers’ and union voices raising awareness about the working conditions in road transport and their crucial impact on road safety across the world.
The ETF uses once again this opportunity to say “NO!” to the weekly rest taken in the lorry. What is at stake? There are signs that the European Commission is considering to change the rules in the detriment of driver and road safety, so that rest periods can be generally taken in the driver cabin.
What do the rules say and why are they systematically breached by road transport operators
Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 makes the road transport undertakings responsible for organising the drivers’ activity in full compliance with its rules, rest rules included!
These rules clearly state that the daily rest of minimum 11 hours, and the reduced weekly rest of 24 hours can be spent in the lorry only with the driver’s consent. Consequently, the normal and extended weekly rest periods of 45 respectively 66 hours will automatically have to be taken away from the cabin. Without a doubt, this reflects the legislator’s concern for health and safety, and road safety. It is equally a question of fair competition among hauliers.
Rest in the lorry is very lucrative for those road transport undertakings ready to break the law to save on costs. While a French or a Belgium driver spending the week-end away from home would be entitled to a number of benefits, allowances and time off work, the non-resident drivers may get a mere daily subsistence allowance and benefit of no other rights. Non-resident drivers are the main victims of this practice, and the most exposed to social dumping too: they work outside their Homebase country on sub-standard pay and conditions, sleeping, eating, working and living in 2m2 of cabin space for several consecutive weeks or even months.
Final word to the ETF
The ETF warns the EU legislator that changing this rule is not a simple wording exercise. Giving green light to rest in the lorry will go against the objectives of the regulation, and particularly against ‘occupational health and safety’ (see Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 Art. 1). It will also go against the definition of ‘rest’ as ‘any uninterrupted period during which a driver may freely dispose of his time’ (see the same Regulation Art. 4(f)).
… and what does not fall under the scope of rest time will entail remuneration of drivers for the time spent in the lorry.
What action by the ETF?
From 5 to 9 October 2015, the ETF and the members of its Road Transport Section will actively promote their call for rest away from the lorry in many ways: contacts with European and national policy makers, trade union events, meetings and exchanges with lorry drivers in parking areas across Europe. The ETF will launch a survey targeting professional drivers aimed to highlight the negative impact of this illegal practice on the driver’s health and on the road safety.
The road transport undertakings are responsible to organise the drivers’ activity in full respect with the rest time rules too!