Impact of the working time directive on collective bargaining in the road transport sector — Poland

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Published on: 19 December 2007

Jan Czarzasty

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Road transport plays an important role in Poland’s economy. Although the Directive has been transposed into the national legislative framework, enforcement of the relevant laws – in particular regarding working time and safety issues – remains unsatisfactory. The sectoral collective agreement covers only a minority of the employees concerned.


Working time for mobile workers in the road transport sector is covered by Directive on working time in the road transport sector

(Directive 2002/15/EC)

This Directive establishes minimum requirements in relation to the organisation of working time in order to improve the health and safety protection of persons performing mobile road transport activities and to improve road safety and align conditions of competition. Member states were requested to implement this Directive by 23 March 2005. However, some countries have yet to transpose it.

The Directive provides a definition of the types of activities that should be included in the calculation of working time. These are: driving; loading and unloading; assisting passengers boarding and disembarking from the vehicle; cleaning and technical maintenance; and all other work intended to ensure the safety of the vehicle. It also covers the times during which a worker cannot dispose freely of their time and are required to be at their workstation. The Directive also regulates maximum weekly working time, breaks, rest periods and night work.

Unlike the working time Directive, the Directive governing working time in road transport does not allow any opt-out. This means that companies operating in this sector need to ensure that the working time of their workforce complies with the Directive. However, under Article 8 of the Directive, derogations can be made from the provisions on maximum working time and night work, for objective or technical reasons or reasons concernIng The Organisation Of Work, Through collective agreements, agreements between the social partners, or by laws, regulations or administrative provisions, provided there is consultation of the representatives of the employers and workers concerned and efforts are made to encourage all relevant forms of social dialogue.

At present, the Directive does not apply to self-employed drivers. As it states, the European Commission will undertake a review of the situation after four years of operation. Therefore, at the latest by 23 March 2007, the European Commission will issue a report to the European Parliament and the Council analysing the consequences of the exclusion of self-employed drivers in areas such as road safety, conditions of competition, the structure of the profession and a range of social aspects. On the basis of this report, the Commission will then decide whether or not to apply the Directive to self-employed drivers from 23 March 2009.

The study

The purpose of this study is to assess the impact that Directive 2002/15/EC has had on collective bargaining in this sector in individual EU countries.

This study will examine collective bargaining and the regulation of working time in the road transport sector in individual European countries, looking at issues such as the organisation of working time, breaks, rest periods, working hours, health and safety, and the status of self-employed drivers. It will also look at whether member states have taken advantage of the derogation options, contained in the Directive, in the case of maximum working time and night work.

1. Details of the road transport sector in your country

Please provide some basic details about the road transport sector in your country. Information should include:

  • the structure of the mobile workforce in the sector, including size, type of employee, proportion of self-employed workers (see also below)

According to national statistics, the entire subsector of ‘land and pipeline transport’ in 2003 employed a total of some 430,000 people, approximately 300,000 of whom worked in road transport. As of 2001, there were approximately 120,000 self-employed drivers.

  • the types of employers operating in the sector

Between 1991 and 2003, the number of companies operating in the sector grew from 17,300 entities to 53,500.

2. Collective bargaining in the road transport sector:

Please provide information on collective bargaining in your sector, including:

  • details of the social partners in this sector – trade unions and employer bodies, name, field of intervention (all the sector/specific part of the sector// all the workers in the sector/ part of them…)

a) Employer associations

  • All-Poland Employers’ Union of Road Vehicle Transport (Ogólnopolski Związek Pracodawców Transportu Samochodowego, OZPTS), established in 1993, covers mainly passenger transport carriers of the PKS Group (Przedsiębiorstwa Komunikacji Samochodowej, formerly Państwowa Komunikacja Samochodowa, a state-owned monopoly in the subsector). Currently, there are a total of 172 companies under the umbrella of the PKS Group, of which approximately 120 belong to OZPTS. Total employment in the PKS Group exceeds 40,000 (note: all data by OZPTS).
  • All-Poland Employers’ Union of Road Transport (Ogólnopolski Związek Pracodawców Transportu Drogowego, OZPTD), established in 2002, covers mainly small and medium private operations. Trade unions (names of the national trade-union centres, the respective unions which they are associated with are marked in bold)
  • Independent and Self-Governing Trade Union Solidarność (Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy ‘Solidarność’, NSZZ Solidarność):
  • All-Poland Employers’ Union of Road Transport the National Section of PKS Companies (Sekcja Krajowa Przedsiębiorstw Państwowej Komunikacji Samochodowej)
  • Trade Unions Forum (Forum Związków Zawodowych, FZZ):
    • Trade Union of PEKAES TRANSPORT Drivers (Związek Zawodowy Kierowców PEKAES TRANSPORT);
    • Trade Union of Drivers in Poland (Związek Zawodowy Kierowców w Polsce);
    • Trade Union of Municipal Transport Employees in the Republic of Poland (Związek Zawodowy Pracowników Komunikacji Miejskiej w RP);
    • Independent Self-Governing Trade Union of Municipal Transport Bus Drivers in the Republic of Poland (Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy Kierowców Autobusów Komunikacji Miejskiej Rzeczpospolitej Polskiej).
  • All-Poland Trade Unions Alliance (Ogólnopolskie Porozumienie Związków Zawodowych, OPZZ):
    • Federation of Trade Unions of Automobile Transport in Communication Employees (Federacja NSZZ Pracowników Transportu Samochodowego Łączności);
    • Integration of Public Transport Employees Trade Unions in the Republic of Poland (Integracja Związków Zawodowych Pracowników Transportu Publicznego w RP);
    • Federation of PKS and Automobile Transport Trade Unions in the Republic of Poland (Federacja Związków Zawodowych PKS i Transportu Samochodowego w RP).
  • Independent and Self-Governing Trade Union ‘Solidarność’80’ (Niezależny Samorządny Związek Zawodowy ‘Solidarność’80, Solidarność’80):
    • The National Section of Transport

whether there are collective agreements.

There is a number of collective agreements in the sector, most of them signed at the company level (so-called single-employer collective agreements, according to the Polish nomenclature).

If so, could you specify whether it is a sectoral one or whether there are agreements that are signed in significant companies. what proportion of the sector do they cover?

There is a sectoral (or multi-employer, according to the Polish nomenclature) collective agreement in force, signed in 1995 between OZPTS and trade unions active in the PKS companies, entitled The Multi-Employer Collective Agreement for Road Transport Employees, hereinafter: the Agreement). At present, the Agreement covers 77 PKS companies (so, in fact, it would more accurately be referred to as a ‘sub-sectoral’ agreement in terms of its coverage). Under binding legal regulations concerning collective bargaining, adhering to an existing sectoral collective agreement is not mandatory for all employers; hence, only OZPTS members have become its signatories. Furthermore, seeing as a number of companies have decided to terminate their membership in OZPTS, they are no longer bound by the Agreement. Besides the sectoral Agreement, there is also an indeterminate number of company-level (single-employer) agreements both in non-member and member companies of OZPTS (Polish law allows for complementary existence of agreements at both levels).

If there are agreements, how often are they renewed. What are the subjects covered: definition of working time

According to the Agreement, ‘working time’ is understood as the time during which an employee remains at the employer’s disposal, either on the employer’s premises or in any other place named as the place for performance of an employee’s duties.

  • working hours

According to the Agreement, ‘general working hours’ (applying to all employees in the enterprises covered) cannot exceed 8 hours per day and a total of 42 hours per week on average. In the case of employees permanently assigned to tasks defined as ‘hazardous’ or ‘onerous’ (by specific labour law regulations), daily working time cannot exceed 7.5 hours. The general terms defined by the Agreement do not apply to security staff or to disabled employees, for whom working time issues are subject to separate legal regulations, provided there are at least 38 free days in a calendar year.

The so-called ‘balanced working time’ (as defined by Polish labour law) applies to the following employee categories: drivers, drivers-conductors, assistant-drivers, and employees responsible for shipping and logistics tasks.

  • Breaks

Employees are entitled to a break of maximum 15 minutes (counted as a part of their working day) every 6 hours.

  • rest periods

One rest period of maximum 5 hours during the day.

  • controls and checks on drivers

The Agreement provides that drivers are to undergo periodical medical checks. As regards other controls and checks, drivers are bound by pertinent legal regulations. Responsibility for these tasks rests with the Road Transport Inspectorate (Inspekcja Transportu Drogowego, ITD).

3. Implementation of the Directive 2002/15/EC in your country

Has your country implemented this Directive?

a) if soo, please give details of the implementing legislation or collective agreement, and when it came into force.

The Directive has been implemented into the national legislative framework. In 2004, the Drivers Working Time Act (hereinafter: the Act) was enacted, coming into force on 1 May 2004. The 2004 Act replaced a previous piece of legislation bearing the same title from 2001.

The legislative process of implementing Parliament and Regulation (EC) No 561/2006 is presently underway. As of early March, the draft amending regulation to the Act had been presented for the second reading before the Sejm (lower chamber of parliament). This draft incorporates most of the Regulation’s ‘facultative’ clauses. If it successfully passes the parliamentary vote (which is more than likely), the amended Act should be enacted within a few of months (by 11 April).

If not, please give details of any debate about implementation, plus any likely implementation date.

b) If your country has implemented the Directive, has implementation been effected by means of specific terms in collective agreements or brought new topics onto the collective bargaining agenda in areas such as health and safety, the organisation of working time, working hours and working conditions or onto these areas in general?

c) The Directive allows for derogations to be made from the provisions on maximum working time and night work, for objective or technical reasons or reasons concerning the organisation of work, through “collective agreements, agreements between the social partners, or by laws, regulations or administrative provisions, provided there is consultation of the representatives of the employers and workers concerned and efforts are made to encourage all relevant forms of social dialogue”.

Maximum working time

Are there any laws or collective agreements in place that allow derogations from the maximum working week of 48 hours, extendable to 60 hours if the average of 48 hours a week is not exceeded over four months? If so, please give details and, if available, statistics on how many workers and companies covered.

No derogations. The Act regulates the issue of maximum working time strictly in accordance with the Directive.

Night work

Are there any laws or collective agreements in place that allow derogations from the maximum working day of 10 hours in a 24-hour period if night work is performed? If so, please give details and, if available, statistics on how many workers and companies covered.

No derogations. The Act stipulates that the maximum working day can not exceed 10 hours in a 24-hour period if 4 or more working hours are performed at night.

4. Specific issues

a) What are the main problems in this sector in your country?

Are there requests from interested parties (employees, trade unions, employer bodies, the government) about regulation on any of the following:

  • health and safety
  • working conditions
  • long working hours
  • controls and checks on drivers

Since the adoption of the Act, no official requests have been made by the social partners concerning regulation of the abovementioned issues.

b) Self-employed drivers

Please give details of the kind of debate that is being held in your country on this issue. For example, what are the views of the government and the social partners on whether or not self-employed drivers should be covered by national implementing legislation.

Self-employed drivers are often the object of criticism by corporate employers alleging ‘unfair competition’ on their part. The employers argue that self-employed drivers are unrestrained in bending the law (in particular as regards working hours issues).

c) Trans-border drivers

Are trans-border drivers concerned by your country regulation in the road transport sector? If so, please specify how. For example, which jurisdiction covers drivers who cross your country on their way to other countries? Is this an issue for debate in your country?

As far as working (driving) hours are concerned, drivers plying international routes are bound by local regulations. Drivers from ‘third countries’ (non-EU), meanwhile, are bound by the AETR convention as far as use of tachometers is concerned.

d) Other issues

Are there any other issues of importance in your country that have not been covered above?

As mentioned above, the main concern of all operators trying to maintain the adequate standards set by law and good practice is the ‘cut-throat’ competition imposed by certain competitors fighting for their place in the market by all means possible, leading to reduction in quality of service. Cost-cutting is achieved through use of outdated vehicles and equipment and breaching the safety regulations concerning working time (practices monitored and counteracted by the ITD). Another vital issue with regard to road transport is the quality of the road network in Poland. Underdevelopment of the network combined with lower prices of cargo transport offered by road freighters in comparison to the railways results in great volumes of heavy vehicle traffic on the roads, the aggravated deterioration of these roads, and – last but not least – very dangerous driving conditions.

5. Views of the national centre

It is particularly important that each NC gives its own comments on the issues covered by this study. Please provide any additional information that you consider important to better understand the current situation and recent developments in the area of working time in your country’s road transport sector.

Although implementation of the EU legislation has so far proceeded on a timely basis, the real problem seems to be enforcement of the law in practice. Road transport plays an important role in the whole economy, so there is fierce competition in the market. The true challenge is to curb it through an efficient regulatory mechanism which would ensure that the law and market fair play rules are followed.

Jan Czarzasty, Institute of Public Affairs

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