Major Inspection Near Port of Antwerp Reveals Alarming Rate of Violations in Road Transport Sector

23 May 2024

On May 20, 2024, a major inspection occurred at the Noorderlaan car park near the Port of Antwerp. Organized by the Belgian police and the Social Intelligence and Investigation Service (SIOD), the operation saw participation from the European Transport Worker’s Federation (ETF), BTB-ABVV, CSC Transcom, ACV Openbare Diensten, and the RTDD Foundation. With the support of the European Labour Authority (ELA), authorities from Bulgaria, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania were also present in a collaborative effort to tackle social fraud and enforce compliance in road transport.

The large-scale inspection targeted 202 trucks, checking compliance with various rules critical to ensure a fair industry and to protect drivers’ health and safety. Numerous violations were uncovered, highlighting systemic issues within the sector:

  • 135 violations of the ban on resting in vehicles during longer breaks were found, revealing widespread non-compliance with rules designed to ensure drivers take adequate rest outside their cabs.
  • 70 violations concerning the return of trucks to the operational centre were identified, highlighting issues with companies failing to adhere to rules on access to the profession.
  • 35 violations of the requirement for drivers to return home every four weeks were discovered, reflecting poor enforcement of rules meant to support drivers’ work-life balance.

In addition to the negative implications for drivers, these findings reveal significant concerns for road safety.“An unrested driver is a danger to you and me as a road user,” emphasized Guy Van Hyfte, Chair of Passenger Transport Working Group of the ETF Road Transport Section

The ETF calls for more frequent and targeted inspections to ensure compliance with legislation in road transport. The goal should be holding employers accountable rather than penalizing drivers with poor working conditions. Belgian Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the need for fines and sanctions for non-compliant employers.

The inspection at the Port of Antwerp is a reminder of the ongoing challenges in the road transport sector. The ETF calls on national authorities, EU institutions and all stakeholders to support better enforcement of rules in road transport.