Monday, August 8, 2016

Irish Freight Transport Association Objects to French Road Haulage Truck Driving Law

Repeal or Match with Reciprocal Rules on Minimum Drivers Wages Says FTAI
Shipping News Feature
FRANCE – IRELAND – The joke of the ‘Loi Macron’, brainchild of French Minister of the Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs, Emmanuel Macron, is that it has been publicised as a method of freeing the country’s economy somewhat from its strict employment laws and opening up to a more European standpoint, yet the section covering the minimum wage for foreign freight and coach drivers engaged in road haulage operations is now seen as doing the exact opposite. Industry stakeholders are asking how a rule insisting truck drivers’ wages are decided by the French, no matter where they hail from, be described as loosening the country’s over regulated economy, as our recent article listing the regulations pointed out.

Now the Freight Transport Association in Ireland (FTAI) is asking the Irish government to either force the repeal of the law or introduce reciprocal measures. The Macron Law itself covers a raft of changes, many already watered down to gain acceptance in the French Parliament, but the idea of controlling the wages of overseas workers whilst they are engaged in international transport operations seems to the FTAI to directly contradict the spirit and principles of the European Community.

According to FTAI’s interpretation the Macron law rules do not apply to transit operations through France, only to transport operations in France, and don’t apply to self-employed drivers either. The law is notionally intended to enforce the French minimum wage. It requires transport companies to submit a ‘posting’ certificate for each worker, which must be renewed every six months. The employer must also appoint a company representative in France for the duration of the transport operation plus 18 months. Neil McDonnell, FTA Ireland General Manager commented:

“This law is ludicrous and totally unfair to our members. It constitutes a direct assault on the principle of free movement of goods and services throughout the EU. It is a cynical protectionist measure, designed to make transport operations within French territory administratively difficult, unless carried out on French vehicles. FTA Ireland considers these rules to be a ridiculous interpretation of Directive 96/71/EC, which applies to workers posted to another country.

“The directive was never intended to apply to workers temporarily operating in another country on transport operations. This new French legislation is even more complicated than we originally feared. For truck drivers, the minimum hourly wage ranges from €9.68 to €10.00, depending on the weight of the truck and the qualification of the driver. For coach drivers, the hourly rate ranges from €10.11 to €10.64.”

The FTAI also highlighted that while the French authorities failed to provide details of their new minimum wage laws prior to enactment, these are now available in translated format here along with a link to Frequently Asked Questions. Reading the information it would appear that, although those merely transiting the country with no loading or offloading in France, are not covered by the legislation, they are still liable to be asked to prove this, and vehicles of any weight, including those less than 3.5 tonnes, i.e. van drivers will be required to comply fully with the rules.

Both a compliance certificate and a copy of the driver’s contract are required to be in the vehicle cab at all times whilst in France. Failure to carry a valid, compliant certificate on board the vehicle will be punishable by a class 4 fine (up to a maximum of €750). Failure to carry the employee’s contract of employment and, where applicable, the employee secondment agreement on board the vehicle will be punishable by a class 3 fine (up to a maximum of €450).

To its critics France would seem yet again to have turned a simple principle into a complex, rule ridden piece of legislation, both unwieldy and expensive to comply with and weighted heavily in favour of the host country, rather than the European ideal. It remains to be seen where the UK stands with regards to future status, as Brexit negotiations will doubtless mean any French rulings will apply to British truck and coach drivers, no matter what happen to those from the EU.