It belongs to the most controversially debated legislative proposals, which are currently negotiated by Parliament and Council: the “lex specialis” on the Posting of Workers Directive, which should regulate to what extent the generally accepted Posting of Workers Directive has to be applied in the road transport sector - or not, as the case may be. The European Parliament's Committee on Employment has now sent a clear and unambiguous signal and voted on 25th April 2018 with a majority against substantial exemptions. Hence, this is a first important positioning, which in view of the still outstanding votes in the Committee on Transport and Tourism and in the plenum as well as with regard to the negotiations with the Council cannot be overstated.
However, there are still tough debates and tight votes to be held until the EU Institutions will have agreed in which form the Posting of Workers Directive has to be applied with regard to road freight and passenger transport. Whilst the current Directive from 1996 fundamentally applies to all postings and as a result also to the road transport sector, the Proposal by the Commission from 2017 provided for exempting cross-border road transport for the first three days of a month. This would mean that drivers of transports from and to Austria would no longer be paid in accordance with Austrian remuneration conditions, but in accordance with those of the Posting State. However, from an Austrian point of view, wages are significantly lower in many neighbouring countries. A consequence of this would be the continuation of the already often existing poor working conditions of lorry and bus drivers and additional pressure on the workforce.
Whilst many representatives of economically weaker countries - both in the European Parliament and the Council - regard lower wage levels as a competitive advantage and therefore support exemptions; in doing so, however, completely ignoring the conditions of workers. The majority of MEPs in the European Parliament's Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) take a different view: the vote on 25th April 2018 resulted in a majority of 30 Yes to 23 No-votes, according to which the Posting of Workers Directive should be applied both to domestic transport by foreign companies (cabotage) and to cross-border transport. This would make social dumping significantly more difficult and the painful question concerning control options of a temporal exemption would also become obsolete. Apart from that, there shall also be no exemption in case of long-term postings, which would ensure that after 18 months at the latest, the provisions of the country have to be applied in which the activity is taking place.
However, this important success will be followed by further tough negotiations. In just under a month, the Committee on Transport and Tourism TRAN will vote on the same dossier; however, it is not yet foreseeable whether the same position will find a majority. The same applies to the vote in the Plenum, which has been scheduled for June. The trilogue negotiations with the Commission and the Council will probably take place under the Austrian Presidency in the second half of 2018, whereby the position of the Council is also still open. The Austrian Chamber of Labour will continue to intensively contribute to the negotiations to ensure that a final result will be reached at the end of the political process, which is as congruent with the Committee on Employment´s position as possible. Only then it is possible to effectively fight against social dumping on Europe’s roads.