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Broad support needed in the fight against the European Commission’s plans for road transport

3 May 2017

Broad support needed in the fight against the European Commission’s plans for road transport

For years SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong has been doing his best to ward off European Commission plans to liberalise domestic road transport. Confronted with drivers’ tales of exploitation and oppression, Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc seemed persuaded, and the impression was created that measures would be taken. Yet now Europe’s transport unions are hearing that in reality Bulc is determined to go ahead with liberalisation. This would leave Dutch drivers, amongst others, out in the cold.

“During previous meetings which I, together with the drivers, had with Commissioner Bulc, she appeared to be impressed by how bad things were on our roads,” says De Jong. “Now what she wants is to further undermine rights and make the cabotage regulations more flexible. Evidently Bulc thinks the market is more important than people. We mustn’t let her get away with this.”

Under existing cabotage rules it is permitted to attach to an international journey three domestic journeys provided these come within a period of seven days. Bulc wants to increase this maximum. In addition, there are indications that the Commission wants to do away with the requirement that under this system drivers must be paid at least the minimum wage of the country in which the domestic journeys are taken, and instead oblige employers to pay only the minimum wage of the country in which the company is based.

On these issues De Jong works closely with the European Transport Federation, the umbrella group for transport unions, as well as with like-minded MEPs. “The broader the support for taking action against Bulc’s plans the better” says De Jong. “The PvdA (Dutch Labour Party) MEP Agnes Jongerius is rapporteur for the detached workers’ directive, which is the relevant legislation here, and we are working together to achieve equal pay for equal work performed in the same country. We have to take up the cudgels together: drivers, their unions, and any and every MEP who really wants to tackle exploitation and oppression in the road transport sector.”

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