Following numerous allegations of malpractices within Lithuania’s haulage industry, including those reported in a shocking documentary, the country’s government has announced a raft of proposals aimed at improving the working conditions of HGV drivers.
In a statement published on Wednesday, Lithuania’s Ministry of Social Security and Labour said it was inviting employer associations and trade unions to sign an agreement on improving the working conditions of staff in the international road haulage sector.
The proposed agreement envisages increases in inspections, as well as more liability for violations of existing laws. The government also wants truck drivers to have better access to information about the amount of hours they have worked, as well as contractual and legal rights, in their own languages.
The government has already stated that hauliers will no longer be able to make payments to drivers via cash. In addition to that, the aforementioned proposals would require hauliers to email drivers with all the information about their monthly pay-packet, including any deductions.
Moreover, the Social Security and Labour department adds that it supports giving drivers the right to spend the night outside the cabin and return home, while stiffer fines for violations and tougher monitoring of letterbox companies are part of their proposals too.
According to the aforementioned statement, parties that sign the agreement would discuss the fulfillment of their mutual obligations every three months.
“The transport sector is asking for the facilitation of the import of third-country nationals, but we see that there are many disputes with incoming workers, and there is also a lot of change. We want the transport sector to improve and for more and more companies to start valuing their employees and creating better working conditions for them. We are looking to see how we can do it together, ” says Vytautas Šilinskas, Lithuania’s Deputy Minister of Social Security and Labour.
The statement from the Social Security and Labour department also says that data from the State Labour Inspectorate shows that illegal work in the transport sector is being increasingly replaced by undeclared work. This may come in the form of unaccounted overtime and night shifts, work conducted on days off, or other violations of drivers’ hours rules. It also refers to situations whereby lorry drivers may have been forced to sign requests for unpaid leave, or be promised wages that are not paid.
The announcement from the Lithuanian authorities follows some frosty exchanges with the country’s road haulage association, Linava.
Earlier this month, the organisation complained about the government’s refusal to grant more visas to foreign drivers. In June, Linava also took issue with the banning of cash payments, claiming that drivers prefer it as they don’t have to hunt for ATMs. Linava also argued that IT and banking systems in the country are not ready for such a change.