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Tensions reignite as Poland fights labour rules for truckers

Poland is putting up a fight over an upcoming EU proposal that will affect working conditions for truck drivers who travel between countries with different social welfare laws and minimum wages, Euractive reports.

Top officials from Poland’s infrastructure ministry were in Brussels yesterday (1 March) campaigning to stop the planned legislation before Violeta Bulc, the EU transport chief, announces the changes in May.

“We should think about the improvement of working conditions within legal means that already exist,” Justyna Skrzydło, Poland’s deputy minister for infrastructure, said at a conference organised by the Polish permanent representation in Brussels.

Under current EU cabotage rules, drivers can spend up to seven days in another member state and still be subject to national laws in their home country. But a group of western EU countries have argued that has led to bad working conditions and wages for truck drivers as well as distorted competition from low-paying haulage companies based in the EU’s eastern members.

Polish truck drivers deliver more freight in other EU countries than drivers from any other member state, according to 2014 data. Most Polish truck drivers abroad work in Germany, France and the UK.

Poland and other Eastern European countries don’t want any new restrictions that could make it harder for workers to spend time in another EU country.

They’re up against a united front. One month ago, eight western EU countries – France, Germany, Italy, Denmark, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium and Sweden – signed a pact at a Paris meeting to push for EU rules against underpaid jobs for truck drivers. Norway’s transport minister also signed the declaration.

Skrzydło declined to say whether Poland would organise a declaration similar to the Paris pact with other countries that oppose stricter rules on truck drivers’ working conditions when they travel abroad.

“We do not perceive our actions as any kind of response to the French initiative,” she said.

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