An Irish MEP has called on Sinn Féin to explain why one of its MEPs failed to support a vote that would have been in the interests of Irish road hauliers.
Deirdre Clune MEP has called on Sinn Féin to clarify why party MEPs failed to support measures that would have been in the best interests of Irish road hauliers, especially as the economic impact of Brexit looms large over the sector.
The Ireland South MEP questioned the party’s position following last week’s European Parliament’s rejection of a compromise agreement, which would have exempted the road haulage sector from posted worker requirements in what she described as a “disappointing and potentially harmful result for Irish road hauliers”.
“There are over two million posted workers in the EU. These persons carry out work duties in the territory of an EU Member State for a limited amount of time, other than the state in where they normally work. It’s now been agreed that they should be entitled to the same pay or minimum wage as the local workforce under the Posting of Workers Directive.
“However, the road transport sector was dealt with separately due to its specific characteristics. Applying the same rules to drivers carrying out international transport operations would be disproportionate and overly burdensome due to the huge amount of paperwork involved because international transport operations often imply so many border crossings.
“Therefore, the sensible compromise reached was not apply posting rules to international transport. However, this compromise was rejected by Parliament and voted against by a Sinn Fein MEP – despite strongly voiced concerns of the Irish road haulage sector,” said Clune, a Member of the Parliament’s Transport Committee.
“For Ireland, a trading and exporting nation, the smooth functioning of our international transport is paramount. Ireland is a peripheral country and a haulier typically transits four, five or even six countries just carrying out their scheduled job. Many of these companies are small and need to be exact with their margins to ensure viability. Unreasonable or impractical added requirements can threaten their viability.
“For Irish hauliers, this is not about an attempt to exploit wage differences in Europe, it is simply a matter of administration and the cumbersome requirements to prove that drivers are paid above local minimum wages. Paying the actual wage is a non-issue given Irish salary standards compared to the rest of Europe. It is very disappointing that some other Irish MEPs don´t seem to recognise the specific challenges facing many Irish businesses, especially ahead of Brexit,”
MEP Clune further pointed out that Sinn Féin also failed to support a report on driving and rest times for truck drivers, which contains a compromise amendment on derogations for long ferry crossings. “The question must be asked -if they are serious about Ireland securing alternate routes to the EU, why would you vote against this?”
Deirdre Clune MEP and her Fine Gael MEP colleagues (EPP Group) have called for the balanced and reasonable compromise to exempt road hauliers from the posting of workers directive to be reconsidered as a fair approach.
“If MEPs had supported the compromise reached, we could have been entering negotiations with a much stronger position for Irish road hauliers. Now, the industry faces a lot of uncertainty as we could end up with an outcome that is much worse for Irish haulage,” she added, ahead of several key Transport Committee votes at the Parliament in Strasbourg next Wednesday (July 4).