VILNIUS – The European Union's plans to require truck drivers return home every eight weeks will lead to a loss of thousands of jobs, Lithuania's national road carriers' association, LINAVA, says.
"We can clearly say that, based on our estimates, Lithuania will lose around 34,000 jobs," Mecislavas Atroskevicius, secretary general at LINAVA, told BNS.
European lawmakers earlier proposed requiring that businesses return drivers home at least every four weeks. But following negotiations with Finland, representing member states, it was agreed earlier in the day on an eight-week term, source in Brussels told BNS.
The change will not be significant, Atroskevicius said.
"Mustard compresses won't save a dying person, therefore, there's no major difference between four and eight weeks. The very fact of returning vehicles is a very bad thing," Atroskevicius told BNS.
He says such a requirement would run counter to environmental protection as the truck return would increase pollution.
LINAVA plans to continue discussions on the so-called Mobility Package but has little hope to secure a positive result, Atroskevicius said.
"We will definitely be speaking and discussing possible steps we could take but that's already outside the association's competence and within the state's competence. Unfortunately, not everything is fine with the state's attitude towards the transport sector as many non-weighted decisions have been made, including those on taxes and other things," Atroskevicius said.
He also expressed his regret over the fact that Lithuania, with the transport sector having major economic role, has failed to defend its position.
"We probably have no reproaches for institutions and people who work on this over the Mobility Package, but the result is negative as we have failed to convince the governments of other countries. It’s a minus for Lithuania as it's more important for us than other countries, and that makes us weaker as a state," Atroskevicius said.
Tomas Garuolis, transport policy secretary at LINAVA, says Lithuania's transport sector will incur huge losses because of such a decision, and it will mostly affect small enterprises.
According to Garuolis, the Mobility Package and the increase in the minimum monthly salary for posted workers in the transport sector will encourage concentration in the road carriers' sector, which will subsequently reduce competition.
"Due to the challenges to be faced by the road carriers' sector, the country's economy is likely to lose at least 1.6 percent GDP," Garuolis said.
In his words, the state will need around 111 million euros in one-off expenses for unemployment payments for transport workers who will become unemployed because of bankruptcies. And the state budget is estimated to lose 102 million euros in revenue, including 65 million euros in social insurance premiums and 37 million euros in residential income tax.
Lithuanian businessmen and government representatives say western European countries wants stricter rules to push them out of the market.
Western Europeans say, however, more stringent rules will allow avoiding misuse and improving workers' situation.