Rise in 3rd country drivers may worsen working conditions, says Denmark’s Transport Minister

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Hiring many 3rd-country drivers can seriously distort competition between hauliers and lead to worse working conditions, Denmark's transport minister told the European Council last Friday.

Rise in 3rd country drivers may worsen working conditions, says Denmark’s Transport Minister
Photo: Richard Says / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

At the transport ministers’ meeting of the European Council last week, Danish Transport Minister Trine Bramsen expressed concerns about developments in the road freight transport sector – including the strong growth in the number of driver attestations for third-country drivers.

Bramsen referred to a trend during the pandemic whereby a “remarkable increase” was observed in the number of certificates issued to lorry drivers from third countries.

A Belgian delegation had already warned about this trend at a previous meeting in December, in which it recommended the introduction of a minimum road transport price to stop cheap prices in international freight traffic.

Now, the Danish delegation has joined their Belgian counterparts in raising similar alarm bells.

“There seems to be a deliberate strategy from some large logistic groups in some Member States to employ a high proportion of drivers from third countries in order to keep down labour costs and to gain a competitive advantage. Such practices seriously distorts competition between hauliers and leads to worsening working conditions,” said Bramsen.

To put the question in perspective, it is worth reaching back to the Belgian delegates’ figures: driver attestations in road freight transport have almost quintupled in 8 years in the EU. The numbers increased significantly in 2019 and 2020. By the end of 2020, the number of valid driver attestations had reached more than 228,000.

On the last occasion when when this topic was brought up, EU Transport Commissioner Adina Valean said the increasing practice of hiring 3rd country drivers could help alleviate the increasingly problematic driver shortage.

Addressing this opinion, Bramen said that while making use of third-country drivers could be a remedy to the current shortage of truck drivers, “such a remedy is not a sustainable long-term solution to the problem if it disrupts fair competition and leads to worse working conditions.”

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