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Trade unions have accused Belgian transport company Jost of social dumping by ‘importing cheap labour from Romania’ using chartered airplanes.

The story has been widely reported among Belgian and Luxembourg media outlets, who argue Jost are guilty of engaging in unfair practices. Although social dumping, contrary to appearances, is not uncommon among Western carriers, this story regarding the Belgian company will certainly not go unnoticed in the industry. 

An investigation by the Belgian trade union of transport workers, CSC Transcom, has concluded that Jost charters a plane that transports truck drivers from Romania every fortnight.

According to local media, every other Sunday morning a plane transporting 160-180 Romanian drivers takes off from Bucharest and lands in Maastricht in the south of the Netherlands. From there, the Romanians are taken on a 45km bus journey to Herstal in Belgium, where Jost is headquartered. Once the drivers arrive at the base, they get in their respective trucks and start their journey.

One may wonder how it is possible that chartering planes every fortnight could possibly be profitable for Jost. It appears that the disparity in salaries between Romania and Belgium is what makes the decision cost effective. Romanian drivers are paid between €550 and €600 per month, while Belgian truckers cost the employer around €5,000 (including taxes).

All eastern European workers are hired by Skiptrans from north-western Romania. In the last 10 years, the number of drivers has increased from 20 to 845.

The costly transport of the workers has attracted even greater interest from trade unions and the media, not least because the Luxembourg branch of Jost is benefiting from state subsidies handed to them due to the covid-19 pandemic.

The Belgian trade union CSC Transcom has decided to take the case to court.

In reaction to the announcement, Jost and Skiptrans have announced that they will fight „all the charges against them and shall adopt the presumption of innocence”. In addition, the Romanian company have defended themselves by arguing that transport during the pandemic is safer in a plane compared to a bus.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/ NotrucksNolife CCA SA 2.0 Generic

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