EU hours reform work for coach tourism drivers takes step forward

Hey there! Let’s dive into some exciting news from November 21, 2023, penned by Tim Deakin. It’s all about a significant step forward in reforming the work hours for coach tourism drivers in the EU. The European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee recently voted in favor of some proposed amendments, pushing this change closer to reality.

Here’s the scoop: The International Road Transport Union (IRU) is calling this a “compromise package.” With 31 votes for, five against, and one abstaining, it seems there’s quite a bit of support. But, it’s not a done deal in the UK yet. Despite strong calls for change from various coach industry trade bodies, it’s still up in the air.

The next big moment for this is in the European Parliament plenary session, scheduled for December 11-14. If both the European Parliament and the European Council agree, then they’ll start hashing out the final version of the law.

Raluca Marian, the IRU’s Director of EU Advocacy, is keen to wrap this up within the year. She’s looking at 2024 for rolling out these changes. Her focus? Making sure coach tourism drivers can tailor their breaks to suit their work and passenger needs, without compromising safety.

So, what changes are we looking at? First, there’s a tweak to the 45-minute break rule, allowing drivers to split it into two shorter breaks. For longer trips (six days or more), drivers might get to extend their working day by an hour once, as long as they don’t exceed a seven-hour daily driving limit. Plus, the 12-day dispensation currently for international trips might extend to national tours too.

The European Council notes that these changes are tailored to the unique nature of occasional passenger transport, different from regular line service or freight transport. They’re particularly keen on expanding the 12-day rule to national services, seeing it as a fair play move, especially for smaller operators.

Marian is concerned that current rules are tough on drivers and are holding back tourism. But, not everyone’s on board. The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) isn’t thrilled. They’ve even protested in Brussels. They argue that extending working hours could risk safety and worsen driver shortages. Instead of loosening regulations, the ETF wants to make the coach driver role more appealing and sustainable.

They’re gearing up to spread the word across the EU about the potential risks of these changes. In the coming weeks, they’ll be rolling out an info campaign to educate the public.

It’s a mix of excitement and caution as this proposal moves forward. Stay tuned for more updates as the story unfolds!