After a long political battle, today the European Parliament rejected the attempts to further liberalise professional road transport and to weaken existing rights. Led by progressive MEPs, the Parliament rejected the three Commission proposals on the social aspects of the first Mobility Package - posting of drivers, working and rest time, and cabotage - and sent them back to the transport committee. S&Ds hope that the European Commission will listen to the Parliament and come up with a new proposal that will actually strengthen and not undermine the working conditions of lorry and coach drivers.
S&D vice-president for sustainability Kathleen Van Brempt said:
"The well-being of 3.6 million professional drivers is at stake. As well as, the safety of all other drivers, and bus and coach passengers. This is why today we had to reject the attempt to approve new legislation that could bring us back in time and endanger existing rights.
“We must find the right balance to ensure that workers’ rights are protected while enough room is given for the enterprises, especially SMEs, to thrive. That is our challenge, and we S&Ds have specific proposals to achieve it.
"We cannot accept EPP rapporteur Wim Van de Camp's move to legalise the regular weekly rest of 45 hours in the cabin, after the European Court of Justice ruled last year that this was forbidden. For Socialists & Democrats, rest means, and will always mean, that the worker can dispose freely of his or her own time. It means that drivers get comfortable beds to sleep in, with running water, clean toilets and hot showers nearby. We will keep fighting for a humane and social Europe.
"Now the European Commission has the opportunity to listen to the Parliament and to come up with a new proposal in which workers' rights are respected."
S&D spokesperson on transport, Ismail Ertug, who is also the author of the parliamentary report on cabotage, said:
"There is hardly any sector that is as transnational, and thus European, as transport. Luckily, S&Ds were able to prevent a further derogation of the already alarming situation many European drivers are in. If the conservative-liberal majority of the European Parliament had not opposed it so vehemently, today could have been a major leap forward towards a more social just Europe, a leap forward in economic rapprochement between the East and West. However we as Socialists will take this decision as an incentive to keep on fighting for exactly that."
S&D spokesperson on employment, Agnes Jongerius MEP, who was also rapporteur of the posting of workers, added:
“Without our resistance the liberalisation in the road sector would have simply passed. We cannot allow that there are first and second class drivers in Europe, without equal pay for equal work. We cannot stand by and watch how competition is becoming more unfair for honest companies. In addition, we have to put an end to the Wild West situation on our roads. We just revised the posting of workers directive. Why should drivers not benefit from the new rules?
“We need fair wages and decent working conditions for all those who transport our goods and who bring us from A to B. The drivers can count on our support. We now call upon the Commission to do their homework, and come up with better proposals for the enforcement of existing social legislation.”