Interview with UICR President Robert Kastner, EPDA President Walter Pisarnik and EPDA Chairman Barry Lyons
The EPDA had the pleasure of meeting with the President of the Union of International Chauffeurs’ and Routiers (UICR) Mr. Robert Kastner on his recent visit to Dublin last week. Robert was here at the invitation of the EPDA Executive Committee. As a growing representative body for professional drivers the EPDA are very interested in finding out more about how best to represent their interests. The UICR represent the interests of over 1.4 million drivers from 16 European countries. Five countries outside the EU are also represented and the UICR are continuing to add more countries.
Ireland joined in 2018. Ireland will be represented at the General Assembly in Croatia by the Executive members of the EPDA. All member countries are represented at the assembly where countries will put forward projects to promote the interests of professional drivers. Ireland will be presenting two projects for consideration, one is a survey of all countries on issues in relation to the coupling and uncoupling of articulated trailers and the other is the development of an online training programme for professional drivers.
The UICR undertake projects on behalf of the members. One recent project was relating to Secure European Truck Park Operational Services (SETPOS). This project is an extensive study of how a parking area should be constructed to provide a full range of services for road transport operators. The findings from this work will provide the foundation for the development and promotion of the SETPOS secure parking standard.
The International Road Transport Union (IRU) is the world road transport organisation, which upholds the interests of bus, coach, taxi and truck operators to ensure economic growth and prosperity. Similarly, the UICR represent the interests of professional, light commercial vehicle and heavy commercial vehicle haulage and passenger transport. The IRU represent the interest of transport companies while the UICR represent the interests of drivers. Both organisations do cross over and Robert is very supportive of the IRU.
Asked is the worldwide shortage of drivers is as acute as reported and what are the UICR doing to address this. Robert said that the UICR have been monitoring various initiatives in its member countries. Insurance costs and the low appeal of a job with little or no career prospects coupled with antisocial hours does not appeal to school levers. A number of countries developed apprenticeship programmes, in Austria their programme attracted three apprentices, this was in a country with 120,000 professional drivers. The take up was less than anticipated. Again this seems to be a trend that may repeat in many countries. There is a drive to attracting more mature workers. This is based on a trend in the labour market, where workers make a number of career changes during the course of their working lives. It’s important that the experiences of UICR members are monitored so that the EPDA can identify the most productive recruitment programmes.
What are the UICR’s thoughts on enforcement of pay rates across the EU? For example, a non-French worker making a delivery in France must be paid the French minimum wage during the time they are in France. Is this a realistic proposition and if so, what amendments to the posted workers’ directive do you believe are necessary for the transport sector? The UICR don’t engage in pay rates, however the professional driver should be paid in line with the country that they are working in andnot the country they are from simply because the costs of living in both countries may differ.
Bogus self-employment is a major issue in the transport section in the UK and we are seeing increasing incidents of this in Ireland. Is this an issue the UICR has come across in other European countries and what is your position on the practice? This matter was an issue in some member countries. It was resolved by the tax authorities in countries charging firms for unpaid taxes for drivers who did not meet the criteria of self-employed. The problem went away.
Regarding the use of vehicles under 3.5 tons on international transports what is the opinion of the UICR in relation to the well-being of these drivers. The UICR believe that these drivers should be regulated to the same extent as professional drivers in the > 3.5-ton category. It is essential for driver well-being and road safety.
The UICR promote the 10th of May as International day of the Professional driver. They ask that motorists, cyclists and other road users, tie a yellow ribbon to their wing mirror or handle bar to recognise the good work that professional drivers contribute to the welfare of society.
We asked Robert how we could go about raising revenue to support the activities of the EPDA. He said that the work load that the EPDA has been undertaken to date is very impressive. Corporate sponsorship is a key resource as the drivers represented by the EPDA are valued customers to many corporates. The UICR has been very well supported by both Scania and Iveco. The manufacturers can see a value in associating with professional driver organisations as they can provide real world feedback on the needs and opinions of drivers. Doing a survey from an Association can elicit a more honest response than directly from a manufacturer or service provider.
Being a member of the UICR has its benefits. As result of participating in the World Professional Championships the EPDA has kept in contact with other organisations and as a result we are going to Holland in July to compete in a national open competition. It is also good to know that our organisation has the support of other like minded associations.