How do we repair the cracks in the road haulage industry?

7 May 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has catapulted the road transport industry to the forefront of this crisis. On the one hand, drivers are cheered and applauded for delivering food and medicine. On the other hand, the pandemic has laid bare their working conditions and the pitfalls of the industry; it’s no longer possible to sweep these issues under the rug and ignore them.

Recently, the ETF featured in a Euronews report exposing these issues; ETF’s Political Secretary for Road Transport, Cristina Tilling, ETF Road Transport Chair, Roberto Parrillo, Tom Peeters from BTB and Adrian Jones from Unite all explain and speak out against social dumping. The report sheds light on drivers’ inhumane working conditions, social dumping, letter-box companies, tax evasion, and fraud in the road transport industry. All of this begs the question: How did we get here and what can we do to repair the cracks in the road haulage industry?

In our report and recommendations (which you may download on your right), the ETF answers this burning question by laying out a timeline of what went wrong during the 2007-2008 financial crisis, the working conditions of drivers and concrete proposals on what Member States and governments should be doing to prevent a repeat that will further worsen the conditions of drivers. 

Indeed, the road haulage industry might deliver when it comes to goods, but it falls short when it comes to fair competition, compliance with EU and national rules, and social standards. 

What must emerge from this crisis is a revival of the road transport industry that does its drivers justice.

The ETF calls on EU Institutions to already start implementing measures to protect drivers:

  • The adoption of the Mobility Package without delay
  • A systematic investment, starting now, in national and cross-border enforcement and capacity for inspections in road transport.
  • No further extension to the driving and rest time derogations.
  • Reintroduction of the ban on weekly rest in the vehicle with immediate effect

Furthermore, the European Commission must come up with a viable prospect on the gradual reopening of various economic sectors with a forecast on how transport will be used to accompany this process. This will be vital in planning the revival of road transport, both in passenger and freight, in full compliance with the rules and with full regard to the future sustainability of the sector in a multimodal context.

We cannot once again rescue the EU economy at the expense of drivers’ working conditions. We must learn lessons from the past, and the ETF is here to make sure these lessons are not ignored.

You may download our complete report and recommendations on the right-hand side.

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