A Czech truck driver hauling cargo from France to the Netherlands for the company ČSAD Uherské Hradiště was in for an unpleasant surprise when he was stopped by French authorities, reports iDnes.cz.
The trucker was not speeding, or committing any other driving infraction.
Instead, he was issued a 135 EUR fine for – irony of all ironies – not being paid enough by his employer.
That’s because France has a new law on the books from this July that says that all foreign drivers travelling through the country must be paid at least the French minimum wage.
The Czech trucker, who was reimbursed for the fine by employer ČSAD, was the first Czech citizen to be fined under the new French law.
France is the first country to enact the EU law, but more countries are set to follow suit. Italy, Austria, the Netherlands, and Belgium are all expected to enforce similar laws from 2017.
The law is also on the books in Germany, though it has yet to be enforced on the motorways due to an investigation into its application by the European Commission.
The enforcement in Germany is especially concerning for Czech companies, as the neighboring country’s roads are filled with local carriers transporting loads to destinations throughout Europe.
“It makes pan-European transport impossible,” said Vojtech Hromíř, head of the freight association Česmad Bohemia.
“It is not about protecting employees, its sole purpose is to squeeze our companies out of the market.”
For many professions where a citizen may be working abroad, it may make sense to enforce EU-wide minimum wage laws that protect workers’ rights in their home country. But cases such as this one don’t seem to carry the intended effect, to say the least.
The Czech Republic, along with 10 other EU member states, are currently appealing the European Commission to make an exception for road transport in their minimum wage laws.