Dutch lorry drivers’ conditions under pressure from EU

1 July 2005

Dutch lorry drivers’ conditions under pressure from EU

The free movement of persons and the ever increasing liberalisation of the European market is leading to the displacement of Dutch lorry drivers and the exploitation of their colleagues from other countries. Unfair competition, in particular from Polish drivers, has driven many firms out of business. SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer wants to know what the European Commission plans to do about this unacceptable situation.

Drivers from the new EU member states appear to be prepared to work for considerably less than is the norm for Dutch drivers and with inadequate compensation for expenses. This is putting working conditions for Dutch transport workers under a great deal of pressure. In relation to this problem SP Member of Parliament Jan de Wit earlier this week, during the TV programme Premtime, posed a number of questions to the Minister of Social Affairs. MEP Erik Meijer is following this up by asking the European Commission what they intend to do about this modern form of slavery. “Drivers from the new member states are worse paid, receive nothing like the same amounts in expenses for overnight stays and lack any time allowance for stops to use showers or toilets or to eat. They haven't really joined the European Union at all!” said Mr Meijer.

Erik MeijerDutch transport firms which advertise vacancies are often not really interested in receiving applications. “That vacancies have gone unfilled is used as an invalid argument in defence of the recruitment of personnel from other member states at much lower rates of pay. It seems indeed that the enlargement of the EU had as its prime goal an increase in pressure on working conditions. I want the Commission to let me know if this conflicts with Community law.”

Mr Meijer believes that the downward spiral into which Dutch drivers are now being dragged, but which in the end will affect everyone who is employed in transnational road transport, must be put to an immediate end. His colleague in the SP's team in the European Parliament, Kartika Liotard, has written about this problem in more detail recently in an article about the consequences which the services directive would have for lorry drivers.

Yesterday EU Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla published statistics on the inflow of workers into the EU, arguing that it has been in recent years so limited that the member states could now open their labour markets. Erik Meijer disputes this evidence: “These are old figures which take no account of the movement of workers from the new member states into the EU-15. In particular the pressure on lorry drivers should make Mr Spidla rethink his conclusions over the results of the free movement of workers in the internal market.”

You are here