Social rights and road safety
EESC opinion on driving and rest time periods, working time and posting of workers
The EESC plenary approved last week an opinion on the important role of transport as a key sector of the EU economy and addresses the crucial issues of rest periods and posting of drivers. The Committee states that the in the mobility package proposed changes to legislation do not effectively address the identified problems in several aspects and, from the workers' Group view, will not guarantee fighting social dumping in road transport. To ensure better cross-border enforcement, the EESC calls for a European Road Transport Agency.
The Workers' Group acknowledges the effort of the European Commission to find a balance of road transport legislation and fighting social dumping. However, we consider that the proposals on social legislation fall short of meeting the Commission’s own policy objectives. We agree with the EESC opinion that unfair competition between road transport operators and social dumping are intrinsically connected and we are concerned that the downward trend in pricing may render road transport socially, economically and environmentally unsustainable.
Against the critical backdrop of pricing in the transport sector, we have to come up with rules which can effectively guarantee a level playing field for all road transport operators, irrespective of their size, and for all mobile workers, noted the rapporteur Ms Buzek,
without creating new barriers to the internal market or cutting back on social legislation. The internal market has to work for all stakeholders and in all Member States, both old and new, she added.
We need better enforcement of existing rules and an EU-wide study on driver fatigue
The Workers' Group supports Tanja Buzek's concern that the extension of reference periods of rest from two to four weeks could have an impact on driver health and road safety and considers the benefits of the existing rules indisputable. The EESC believes that better enforcement of existing rules is preferable to creating new flexible ones and that the Commission proposal should be evaluated, which is fully supported by the Worker's group.
With particular reference to bus and coach passenger transport, in the Workers' Group we share the EESC concern that the mobility package does not present any thorough assessment of passenger, driver or road safety and that the Commission has not offered solutions for how to address the problem of driver fatigue. Therefore, the EESC calls for an EU-wide study on the impact of driver fatigue on road safety.
Repatriation of drivers and secured parking areas
As Workers' Group we support the call of the EESC on the European institutions and the Member States to ensure that:
- The driver should not be financially responsible for the repatriation to his/her home.
- The weekly rest and compensatory weekly rest periods have to be spent in adequate accommodation conditions, with access to individual sanitary facilities and food.
- Investment occurs in the construction of high-quality road infrastructure.
We particularly welcome the recent ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of 20 December 2017, confirming that the weekly rest period has to be spent outside the vehicle.
The EESC also advises the European Commission and Member States to address the problem of secured parking areas, including the current limited availability of spaces with appropriate facilities for drivers.
Posting rules in road transport and their enforcement
The Workers' Group shares the EESC view that the EU-wide application of rules on posting in road transport to be of key importance in retaining a level playing field for workers and businesses alike and that efficient enforcement is essential. In this context, we share the EESC concern that covering a maximum of 6 months and a group of drivers in one declaration could reduce the effectiveness of enforcement and control of posting rules.
We support the EESC call for bringing forward the mandatory introduction of the 'smart' tachographs and introducing electronic posting declarations for each individual posted driver.
EESC calls for a European Road Transport Agency
The Workers' Group supports the EESC call to establish a European Road Transport Agency, to provide support for policy making and improving the compliance, being the Road Transport the only sector without one.
Overall, and despite the intense debate in plenary, the Workers' Group fully supports the opinion adopted with a large majority, which displays a balanced view but adds critical value to the Commission proposals ensuring that new rules are not at the expense of social rights or road safety.