Euro-MPs demand rapid action against exploitation of truck drivers

10 March 2014

Euro-MPs demand rapid action against exploitation of truck drivers

Euro-MPs today sent an angry letter to European Commissioner Siim Kallas regarding problems in road freight transport. Dennis de Jong, who took the initiative to organise the writing and sending of the letter, said: ‘Our urgent letter follows a year of actions from truck drivers. Last year Kallas promised us that he would take seriously the drivers’ problems, such as exploitation of foreign truckers and that he would be making proposals for action. A year later we have to confirm that nothing has happened. That’s not only much too long for the drivers and our group of MEPs, an increasing number of eU member states are calling on the Commission to tackle the problems caused by liberalisation, and quickly.’

The truck drivers’ problems were listed by the SP last year on the basis of a survey in which almost 3000 participated. The results were collected and published in the publication ‘De vrachtwagenchauffeur aan het woord’ (‘The truck driver speaks out’). ‘Via a range of constructs – such as post-box companies, and the hiring of bogus “self-employed” workers, drivers were subject to exploitation,’ says De Jong. ‘Dutch drivers were faced with a choice between accepting a worsening of working conditions or being fired. Meanwhile the member states and the European Commission ignored the situation. Member states’ labour inspectorates must conduct far more controls and improve their cooperation to uncover exploitative firms more quickly and tackle them. At the same time Commissioner Kallas is once again conducting a study which appears to be a step towards further liberalisation of domestic road transport. This too is completely at odds with undertakings he has previously made to us. Plans for further liberalisation must be kicked into touch.’

At the beginning of February some two hundred drivers in the Netherlands took part in a preliminary action. The event included a discussion of possible follow-up actions to be held throughout Europe. ‘The drivers are really ready to take action,’ says De Jong. ‘It seems increasingly that the truck drivers will have to come to Brussels to remind the Commissioner about his promises. In my view it’s time we brought the European Quarter to a halt. If Kallas won’t hear, he must be made to feel.’

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