At the end of May 2013, the Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament published a study assessing the social and working conditions of truck drivers in Europe. The study reveals that the process of liberalisation in road transport has failed to be accompanied by a parallel harmonisation in drivers’ employment and working conditions within the EU. Hence, “wide differences in labour and social market structures as well as in the effectiveness of enforcement mechanisms continue to exist across the EU Member States. These disparities create gaps that can lead to transport companies being encouraged to adopt disloyal competition and social dumping practices instead of providing opportunities for social and economic growth” (quote from the Study on Social and Working Conditions of Road Transport Hauliers).
Increased precariousness of drivers’ living and working conditions
The study also reveals disloyal practices and abuses heavily contribute to the increased precariousness of drivers’ living and working conditions making the sector totally unattractive for young people. Elements that have deteriorated the most over the past five years are the work environment and income levels, followed by the number of working hours and lack of adequate parking areas and rest facilities.
Roberto Parrillo president of the ETF Road Transport Section welcomed the publication: “This is a long awaited initiative and thus we thank the European Parliament TRAN Committee for undertaking the task of looking into the hardships of the sector. It comes to complete the ETF efforts in denouncing the deterioration of working environment in road transport, and brings additional critical evidence that the road haulage market is not in the condition to cope with further liberalisation.”
European Commission stops further liberalisation
According to the cabotage regulation (Regulation (EC) 1072/2009), in 2013 the European Commission must draw up a report on the state of the sector, covering amongst others the evolution of the employment situation and the degree of social harmonisation in the road haulage market. Based on this study, the European Commission should have considered whether conditions are met for a further liberalisation of road cabotage. Three weeks ago, on 14 May 2013, following mounting pressure by the European social partners in road transport that culminated with an ETF day of action against road liberalisation, the European Commission formally stated that plans with further liberalisation are put on halt. In the weeks to come, the ETF and IRU will meet the European Commission in order to discuss further steps and measures needed for the enforcement of the current rules, as well as for progress with social and fiscal harmonisation.
The study was presented at an exchange of views organised by the European Parliament TRAN Committee in April 2013, at the joint request of the ETF and IRU. The ETF would like to thank the TRAN Committee for its involvement and initiatives, as well as to Alessio Sitran and Enrico Pastori from the TRT Trasporti e Territorio for the commitment and professionalism they put into the preparation of the study. The assessment is based upon facts and figures emerged during the consultation process involving amongst others the ETF and its affiliated trade unions.