Corona effects on working conditions truck drivers

published: 20-04-2021

Truck drivers play an important role in the supply of goods to pharmacies and shops. It is important that these activities can continue to be carried out in a responsible way during the COVID-19 crisis. To ensure this in the Netherlands, the Corona Protocol Transport and Logistics is created in April 2020 by TLN, Evofenedex, VERN, STL, FNV and CNV, which contains general recommendations for truck drivers, their employers and customers. Nevertheless, signals have been received from truck drivers about the negative consequences of the crisis. In the autumn of 2020, members of the Dutch House of Representatives van Dijk and Laçin asked the Dutch government in a motion to map the effects of corona on the working conditions of truck drivers and to take measures, if necessary.

What are these effects of the corona crisis on the working conditions of truck drivers and what are possible measures to take by the Dutch government?

Panteia researched this on behalf of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water. For this purpose, interviews were held with industry organizations and trade unions, as a representation for truck drivers, transport companies and petrol stations, as well as the larger truck parkings for overnight stays and various smaller truck parkings along the main road network of the Netherlands.

Based on the interviews, it was concluded that effects are mainly related to:

  • Available meals and coffee - truck drivers can no longer eat together in a roadside restaurant. Because truck drivers generally spend their time alone in their truck, this is perceived as a great loss. This has a negative effect on the well-being of truck drivers. In addition, the ban on the sale of food by petrol stations during the curfew has resulted in truck drivers accessing the road without having enough food in some cases;
  • Availability of sanitary facilities - these are only limited available for truck drivers at customers. This is specifically the case at smaller companies outside the important freight transport corridors. Although most of the petrol stations along the main road network are manned during the curfew, only a small proportion of sanitary facilities are available to truck drivers;
  • Incidents - especially as a result of the ban on the sale of food during the curfew and the lack of clarity about what can or cannot be sold, incidents arise. In addition, there are frustrations amongst truck drivers about the availability of facilities and the limited role in the loading and unloading process at customers;
  • Welfare - in general, the welfare of truck drivers is viewed as inadequate. Before the pandemic, this was actually already viewed as close to satisfactory, according to the interviewees. The reason for this is the lack of social interaction and the feeling of undervaluation. Since the pandemic, an important part of the truck drivers is no longer feeling well. In addition, more stress is experienced.

Based on the interviews, the following possible measures have been identified: (1) selectively opening roadside restaurants for customers with a truck driving license, (2) exemption from the curfew with regard to selling food at petrol stations in non-urban environments, (3) arranging proper toilets for truck drivers at parking spaces and small truck parkings and (4) ensuring available facilities at customers for truck drivers. The measures the government could take are limited due to COVID-19.

Panteia's research report has been added as appendix to the Parliamentary Document 35570-XII-46, “State of affairs of the implementation of the motion by Members Gijs van Dijk and Laçin on the effects of the corona measures on working conditions and safety in truck parking areas”, in April 2021.

This parliamentary document describes that the Dutch government has acted upon the motion of the members of Dijk and Laçin by making an agreement with representatives of the transport sector and the trade unions, that they contact their members to inform them, in case companies do not open their facilities to truck drivers. It has also been agreed with the sector that if no or insufficient sanitary facilities are available at specific locations, sanitary facilities will be realized. In addition, hot meals can still be obtained from roadside restaurants until the curfew, which has been shifted from 9 PM to 10 PM. Finally, an urgent request has been made to all who receive truck drivers, to treat them with the respect they deserve.

Want to read the full Panteia report and/or the related Parliamentary Document? 

Lees hier het artikel in het Nederlands. 

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