The interpretation of the minimum wage act (in force since January 1st) adopted by the German federal government infringes on the freedom to provide services in the European Union. These regulations are particularly harmful for Polish transport companies.
According to an interpretation put forth by the German Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, a guaranteed wage of 8.50 euro per hour applied to carriers from other EU states working on German territory, including when only their activity is restricted to transit.
Complying with new German regulations would mean a significant increase in costs for Polish transport companies and result in companies offering carriage services between the two countries and to other destinations important for our economy (such as Dutch ports) being pushed out of the EU market. What is more, German legislators have also imposed a number of bothersome administrative obligations related to reporting activities in international transport and drivers’ working time, as well as keeping the relevant documentation. Failure to comply with regulations regarding the access to documentation can result in fines of up to 30 000 euro, while failure to comply with minimum wage regulations could cost up to 500 000 euro.
Such an application of the act has to be considered contradictory with European standards regarding the freedom of trading goods and services on the common market adopted before. The German government maintains that everything is happening in accordance with EU directives on delegating employees, although signals from Brussels suggest that even the European Commission is skeptical towards such an explanation and has initiated a procedure to clarify the situation.
The background of the whole issue is the fact that Polish companies provide ca. 25 percent of transport services in the EU, which means that Poland leads the EU in this respect. Of 90 000 freight road haulers ca. 28 000 provide international transport services. This branch of Polish economy is so important that the government should use all available legal and political means to support Polish carriers in their fight for their rights in the EU.
Jacek Brzozowski, Adviser to the President of Employers of Poland