Truck drivers to take action in the Netherlands and Brussels

15 March 2014

Truck drivers to take action in the Netherlands and Brussels

‘We’re in it up to our necks. If we don’t take action now, there’ll soon be no transport sector left in the Netherlands.’ With this call at the action meeting of truck drivers in Assen, one of the drivers put into words how he and his colleagues feel about the situation in road transport. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong has long given support to the drivers in their fight and was present at the meeting to discuss negotiations on a collective labour agreement for the sector. ‘This concerns much more than a battle over wages,’ says De Jong. ‘The Dutch transport sector will only have a future if we can ensure that unfair competition through exploitation and wage dumping is stopped. That’s why we need action not only in the Netherlands for a decent collective labour agreement but above all in Brussels, where further liberalisation of road transport muct be halted as soon as possible.’

Dennis de Jong gets a lift to the meeting in a truck

At the meeting some three hundred truck drivers from the province of North Netherlands voted not only to reject the 0% offer from the employers but also overwhelmingly to support the call to take action. In the weeks and months to come the drivers will start their campaign with small actions which will later be extended. There was also a great deal of support for action in Brussels to remind the European Commission of its promise to tackle exploitation and repression. Last year saw the Commission under pressure from demonstrations in Brussels to fulfil these commitments.

At a meeting in Assen, truck drivers vote to take action

During and after the meeting a number of drivers approached the SP to describe the appalling conditions under which they are expected to work. ‘I’m shocked by the stories of harassment and even intimidation which the bosses use to put critical drivers under pressure,’ says De Jong. ‘I will continue, with other sympathetic Euro-MPs, to raise these issues. Commissioner Siim Kallas received a further letter from us recently and in April we have another meeting with him. The man seems rather insensitive to purely parliamentary action, however, so I hope and expect that we will shortly be seeing drivers from as many EU member states as possible demonstrating in the European Quarter. In addition, I’m counting on action from the SP branches to help drivers suffering intimidation. We are right behind our drivers in their fight for a dignified existence.’

Dennis de Jong takes a look at an exploitative contract: it pays just €150 per month – a little over £125/$208

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