EU limits truckers working hours throughout Europe
Long-distance lorry drivers, independent or salaried, are not allowed to work more than 48 hours hours a week in Europe, the EU parliament ruled Wednesday.
The decision was immediately slammed by the UEAPME trade and SME employers' group which complained that it "will limit small entrepreneurs' freedom to organise their work according to business needs."
The vote in Strasbourg also contradicts the wishes of European governments and the EU Commission which, while accepting the working hour limits for company drivers, had sought to make a distinction for self-employed truck owners whom they did not want to restrict.
There were some allowances made in the 48-hour a week rule, for activities including unloading and cleaning their vehicle or dealing with customs.
There was a fierce debate in the EU parliament with positions entrenched.
On one side Socialists, Communists, Greens and some conservatives wanted almost total parity for the self-employed drivers and their salaried counterparts to avoid "social dumping" in Europe and reduce road accidents.
On the other hand conservatives and liberals baulked at placing such limits on the independents and the bosses of small-sized companies who hire them. They also argued that it would be impossible to police the law.
© 2010 AFP