A very well attended meeting of drivers took place in Roscrea on Saturday the 1st of September. The meeting was organised by Eugene Cleary of the Drivers Unite. It was attended by drivers from all over the 26 counties and the meeting raised many issues that drivers felt were unfair, unjust and in cases degrading.

Many drivers questioned the standard of the training they were receiving on Driver CPC courses. The drivers for the most part were supportive of professional training but felt that having to do the seven hours training on their time off was unreasonable as many said that weekends were the only time they could make available to attend and that most worked every second weekend and to ask to give up a weekend day to train was showing a complete lack of respect towards them. The meeting suggested that training should be only done Monday to Friday. Many voiced their concerns over the quality of some of the trainers, they felt that some of the trainers had no practical experience of driving and they questioned the appointment process by the RSA for trainers. They asked had the RSA trained the trainers in the material they were delivering?

Walter Pisarnik from the European Professional Drivers Association (EPDA) explained the process by which trainers were appointed. He went on to say that there was an amendment to the current regulation which came into force in May of this year which would give more scope to the previous regulation. Walter said that there were some very positive amendments which drivers would benefit from if the RSA adopt them.  

Another member of the EPDA Joe Doyle addressed the meeting and explained the work that the EPDA has been doing on behalf of professional drivers. Many attendees were unaware of the EPDA and its work and asked why the EPDA did not promote itself to drivers. Joe explained that the organisation is run by a volunteers and that with limited resources they could only deal with general issues mainly of driver wellbeing. He went on to explain the EPDA are currently working on a number of projects in relation to driver health, and a professional driver recognition scheme. They do hold a monthly meeting in Dublin which can be attended by any professional driver.

Another matter was covered relating to RDC’s and the meeting voiced their dismay at the way drivers were treated at some of these centres. The treatment of drivers is absolutely appalling according to a number of drivers present. The lack of basic rest facilities and prolonged waiting times for receiving paperwork were excessive and put the drivers under unnecessary pressure to complete their work. Barry Lyons from the EPDA addressed the meeting and explained the work that the EPDA had done with one of these RDC’s, Aldi in Naas. He explained how the EPDA meet with the centre management and the management changed their policy on rest rooms to accommodate drivers and they also provided refreshments for visiting drivers. The Aldi management team were unaware of the issues and were very proactive in resolving them. It is this type of an approach that should be adopted in dealing with matters of concern for drivers. Barry also spoke about the lack of roadside facilities and the lack of state body support in providing suitable roadside services for drivers. He went on to talk about Greenogue the country’s largest industrial estate which has only six parking spaces for HGV’s and no suitable rest facilities. The Applegreen Motorway service areas close down their buildings after 11pm and a number of service areas have reduced the number of truck parking spaces after receiving planning permission based on the higher number of HGV spaces. These are only some of the challenges that the EPDA are trying to work on but it is a difficult task when it is being done on a volunteer basis. He went on to say that drivers must realise that the RSA and the HSA were state bodies who work in the interests of the road transport community. Drivers should be more aware of the need for these two bodies and that it is important that anyone who represents the interest of drivers should be mindful of the good work that these two bodies do on behalf of professional drivers.    

​Eugene Cleary welcomed the contribution of the EPDA at the meeting and it was suggested that the two groups should meet in the near future and work together.