Germany suspends move to push minimum wage onto foreign hauliers

By bne IntelliNews February 1, 2015

Germany has agreed to suspend new legislation on minimum wages that Poland and others say threaten its huge transport sector.

The German government will delay new regulations stipulating that the country's new €8.5 per hour minimal wage should be applied to all employees working on German soil, even those truck drivers just passing through. The rules have alarmed Polish transport enterprises, which use German roads extensively.

Following talks with German counterpart Andrea Nahles, Polish Labour Minister Wladyslaw Kosiniak-Kamysz announced on January 30 that Berlin has agreed the German regulations will not be applied until the European Union makes a decision on the issue. 

Nahles said controls by state authorities to check whether foreign drivers were being paid the minimum wage would be suspended. Warsaw has raised huge complaints over the issue. The Polish transport industry provides around 10% of GDP. 

Transport firms in surrounding countries are also infuriated by the prospect of having to register employment details with the German authorities. Alongside Poland, grievances have been voiced by the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania.

The suspension of the regulations will apply only to drivers who do not load or unload in Germany. “This will allow us to come to terms with the different interpretations of the law," the German labour minister said. "In the view of the federal government the current regime is compliant with EU law.”

The Visegrad countries have asked the EU to get involved after Germany introduced its first ever minimum wage this year. Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc recently sent a letter to the German government to challenge the move. The European Commission has told Berlin the legislation may hinder free movement of goods and services.

“We see the decision of the authorities to suspend the application of specific aspects of the law pending legal clarification as a positive step,” the European Commission said in a statement.

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