Respect rules, respect truck drivers – Appeal from IRU

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Third-country drivers working in the European Union deserve full respect and support. 

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) voices support for third-country truck drivers taking action in Germany, and calls for the application of the rule of law and collaboration between relevant stakeholders to prevent similar abuses in the future, which IRU strongly condemns.

Dozens of truck drivers have been striking for several weeks at the Gräfenhausen-West parking area south of Frankfurt in Germany. Many of the drivers are non-EU nationals, including from the Caucasus and Central Asia. According to reports, there are drivers who have not been paid for months by their Polish companies.

IRU Director of EU Advocacy Raluca Marian said, “This is an appalling situation. These drivers must be treated with respect and compensated for their work, as outlined contractually and within the law.

“All road transport operators must abide by the rule of law. Any infringements or illegal activity must be sanctioned by the relevant enforcement authorities.”

BGL(Germany) Chairman Prof. Dr Dirk Engelhardt said, “Incidents like the one seen now at Gräfenhausen clearly show that, despite improvement efforts such as the EU Mobility Package 1, unfair and market distorting practices are sometimes still a reality in road freight transport.

“These practices jeopardise the livelihoods of drivers and their families, but also destroy markets for the vast majority of law-abiding companies in road freight transport that offer fair conditions to their drivers. 

“BGL will continue, together with the German trade unions and IRU, to fight for better enforcement of existing legislation in Germany as well as all over Europe.”

ZMPD (Poland) President Jan Buczek said, “Any action that shows signs of unfair competition, including irregularities regarding the payment of due remuneration to the employee, should be carefully assessed and addressed.

“The recently publicised incident should be absolutely clarified by the relevant enforcement authorities, as this situation damages the good image of the road transport industry in the EU.”

Europe needs professional drivers from third countries, beyond the EU, to manage increasingly serious driver shortages, alongside efforts to open the driver profession to Europeans from more diverse backgrounds, particularly young people and women. 

However, all drivers, including third-country drivers employed by EU companies, need to be respected and have their full rights under EU rules defended.

IRU and its members will continue working closely with the European Commission, as well as trade unions and enforcement authorities at EU and national levels, to improve enforcement and ensure that all professional drivers are treated with respect in full compliance with the law.

IRU has also called for harmonisation in the recognition of commercial driving qualifications and licences across the EU to integrate more fully qualified third-country drivers into the EU labour market. This would mitigate the risk of exploitation by outlier companies as seen in this case.