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Spot check on lorry drivers finds more than 200 offences

08:54 06/06/2024

Police and inspection services carrying out a major spot check on truck drivers’ rest periods in the Antwerp port area recently revealed more than 200 infringements.

Some 70 truck drivers failed to comply with the obligation to return regularly to their native country, and 135 drivers were not given appropriate accommodation.

Checks focused mainly on compliance with European social legislation. Those carrying out the controls emphasised that they were targeting the employers more than the drivers. These bosses must ensure that their employees have sufficient rest time and places to stay, so they do not have to spend whole days in their lorries.

Some 341 lorries were seen in the car park where the inspection took place, with 202 drivers on site. In 135 cases, drivers were not able to find a suitable place to rest.

A total of €255,792 in fines were issued, mainly to the transport company. Three trailers were sealed up on the grounds of causing a danger to public health. Another lorry was immobilised as the owner showed no travel documents for it.

The inspection service also revealed a transport company using the car park as a base of sales operations. Its trucks never returned home to Romania, but drivers were being paid much lower Romanian wages instead of a Belgian salary. The company’s five lorries have been seized and an investigation into the firm’s assets is ongoing.

Another foreign company, that operated seven trucks from the car park, is also under analysis. In addition, three investigations are being carried out into illegal employment.

There are strict European Union laws in place concerning the health and safety of lorry workers. In Belgium, truck drivers must take a break of at least 45 minutes on a regular basis. During this time off, drivers must leave their vehicle. However, in practice, drivers often cannot find an alternative such as a hotel room.

Written by Liz Newmark