The European Commission must stand by its proposal to revise the Working Time Directive for road transport workers, despite its rejection by the European Parliament on 5 May 2009 on the grounds that the proposal excludes genuine self employed workers from the legislation. While the Parliament will now ask the Commission to withdraw its proposal, the IRU maintains that this request must be refused because the proposal is too important to be abandoned.
Georges Causse, President of the IRU’s Commission on Social Affairs, commented, ‘’the European Parliament was wrong to reject this proposal. They should instead try to find a joint solution with the Council. It is essential that the Commission asks the newly elected Parliament to reconsider the proposal when it reconvenes in September.’’
The IRU welcomes the ‘general approach’ adopted by EU Member States on the revision. When reviewing its position on the Directive, the EU Parliament should base any future agreement on this pragmatic Council approach defining a period of ‘night work’ as being at least two hours work during the nationally-defined ‘night time’ period, as it brings consistency between the road transport sector and workers in other sectors subject to working time legislation.
The IRU also endorses the Council approach on identifying the fake self-employed workers since it recognises the need for general EU-wide identification principles without reducing Member States’ ability to adapt these criteria to national specificities.
Finally, the Council’s approach of allowing Member States some flexibility over the inclusion or exclusion of genuine self-employed from the Directive should be supported as the Council has struck a balanced compromise, emphasising that the majority position - to exclude self-employed drivers – should not prevent individual Member States from applying such rules to their own operators. This flexibility should allow countries to apply the rules only where truly needed, for example to correct imbalances within a specific national road transport market.
‘’The European Parliament has not tried to find solutions to deal with the question of working time other than to bluntly reject a very important Commission proposal. We urge the Parliament to face up to its responsibilities, re-examine the proposal and follow the Council’s pragmatic approach on the issue. This is the least that the road transport industry deserves,’’ Georges Causse concluded.