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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Unions in row over sleeping arrangements

Sep 22, 2014
International road freight operators and union representatives have hit out against what they see as a protectionist new law in France preventing truck drivers sleeping in their cabs during rest times, claiming it was not thought through and has security, cost, and competition implications.

 

In a bid to improve compliance with labour legislation in the road haulage sector, particularly non-compliance or ‘dumping’ regarding working-hours restrictions, France has introduced a law prohibiting drivers from sleeping in their vehicles during designated weekly rest periods, something that had been allowed under EU regulations. Failure to comply could lead to a year’s imprisonment and a fine of €30,000.

Earlier this summer, Belgium also modified its legislation by imposing penalties on drivers for the same infringement, although the maximum fine is much lower at €1,800.

The International Road Transport Union (IRU) has described the moves as ‘worrying national protectionist measures’ and called on the EU and Member States to act.

IRU general delegate to the EU, Michael Nielsen, said: “As EU legislation is unclear on weekly rest time in vehicle cabins and the fact that the EU does not consider it to be a serious infringement, these announced penalties are completely unacceptable.”  He added that the enforcers themselves do not even know the exact conditions related to the enforcement of these new laws adding to the legal uncertainty in the EU on this issue.

Allegations are being made that France had adopted a protectionist stance, with this change in the law reflecting French suspicions that it is mainly foreign drivers’ working hours that are well beyond the legal limit.  There is, however, a concern that separating a driver from his truck raises a fundamental security issue. For want of dedicated parking facilities for trucks at hotels, a driver might have to walk some distance to find accommodation, returning the next morning to the vehicle, possibly to find neither freight nor diesel!

Image: Sleeping in cabs during designated weekly rest periods in France could now lead to a jail sentence.

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