Truck drivers become key EU election issue in Bulgaria
Added 05-14-19 05:04:02am EST - “SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) ?" The future of Bulgaria's vast number of low-wage truck drivers has become a top campaign issue in the country heading into European Parliament elections, with debates raging on how new EU rules could threaten…” - News.yahoo.com
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SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — The future of Bulgaria's vast number of low-wage truck drivers has become a top campaign issue in the country heading into European Parliament elections, with debates raging on how new EU rules could threaten the workers and deepen divisions between rich and poor nations in the bloc.
The European Commission wants to put restrictions on cargo transport to ensure adequate rest for truck drivers and limit driving distances. Bulgaria, where the transport sector accounts for 15% of GDP and employs some 200,000 people, fears it will erode its workforce's low-cost advantage. It says it could cost jobs and force Bulgarian truckers to move to Western Europe, worsening a wealth gap within the EU.
"This package would directly deprive more than 150,000 Bulgarian families of bread and livelihood," says Angel Dzhambazki, a former member of the European Parliament who is running in this month's election.
The new rules concern truck drivers' postings, driving and rest times, and access to the market. Especially worrying for Bulgarian truckers is the requirement that they spend their rest time in a hotel rather than in bunks in their trucks. The rules would also force drivers to return home every three or four weeks with an empty truck.
Dzhambazki said that the European proposal, called the Mobility Package, would cause thousands of Bulgarians to emigrate to wealthier European countries to be closer to the markets they work with. He sees the proposal as an effort by countries like France and Germany to protect their own businesses from the competition of lower-wage countries like Bulgaria.
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