Mobility Package: the government will decide and we will be happy

Trucks
Trucks Reuters/Scanpix

Mobility Package presents a rare case in Lithuania – bitter disputes on an EU legislative project. Not regarding the villa of a provincial mayor, not yet another fight against alcohol or some other local scandal, but on a document for the entire European club. It is called the Mobility Package. Its essence is core rules for logistics across the European Union, Tomas Čyvas writes in lzinios.lt

The fact itself is rare and laudable because 90% of the affairs in the European Parliament and other European institutions garner very little affairs in our lands and are only occasionally discussed. In this case, things are different because Lithuanian carriers are very serious participants of the European market and the idea itself can be traced back to them to an extent, to their honour. The argument logic of the participants is very interesting as well. Sometimes it even brings us toward Bolshevik fantasies.

When you listen and read what is written and said on this topic, you are left with ambiguous feelings. On one hand, it is great that both staff and certain politicians are inclined to defend the rights and others, who do this work, as well as to demand that not only the interests of profit would be considered. But nevertheless, certain statements and demands make one raise an eyebrow and scratch your head.

Questions about Mobility Package

According to the Mobility Package, the demand that carrier companies would return transport vehicles back to the country of registration every few weeks is viewed as an excess even by the trade unions. Another statement that appears both in drivers’ forums and politicians’ fiery discussions is also very interesting. Supposedly, if a driver is driving on some Western country’s roads, his wage for that time should match the wages of that country. That’s the proposed guidelines and that’s it. Thus, some questions emerge.

A seaman, whose ship crosses a country’s territorial waters during his work, must also receive that country’s wages, while at that country’s waters or ports? What of train drivers? Airplane pilots or stewardesses, when they fly over several countries, should they also be paid respective countries wages at the time? If a journalist gathers material for a publication or investigation in Poland or Germany, will they be paid German, Polish or Lithuanian wages, regardless of where their work will be displayed and published? Really? Even official institutions, which send staff on work trips do not regulate wages based on that country. They simply grant an allowance.

To return to drivers once again – there are those, who go to Belarus, Ukraine or further to the East. It is well known that even going to neighbouring Belarus, waiting and formalities can take entire days, even if theoretically it is close. There is no expectation in such cases to apply different rates for each territory – based on the direction of travel?

About the mobility

Another much escalated aspect of the Mobility Package topic is that the drivers rarely see their families, often spend time away from home. What can you say, it is a serious argument. At the legendary Gdansk shipyard, where once began the revolution of Lech Walesa, I read the polish trade union Solidarity’s demands to the then socialist government of that country. Among them, there were compensations for separation from family during business trips.

I have myself worked at a company, where I was asked immediately whether frequent work trips would not be an issue. This was no longer the times of mature socialism – there was choice. It exists now as well, the so-called work books disappeared and the cadre department no longer take them from staff.

Alongside this there is the question – are nannies or nurses working for months in some Ireland or Germany not much closer to families, when they are brought there by employment agencies, perhaps because of cheapness? Drivers, who agree to travel and worked in so called terms, know that they do it, even if they don’t want to, voluntarily.

They do not choose to drive a bus or taxi, which would guarantee they could sleep at home, but instead to sit in the compartments of trucks. They choose it because it’s worthwhile. This, by the way, is nothing new or unusual. Professional soldiers from something like the French Foreign Legion also, to my knowledge, receive differing wages depending on country of deployment. Less in France, more in something like Djibouti or some Latin American country.

Lithuanias’ enthusiasts

The enthusiastic backers of the Mobility package in Lithuania appear to be inclined to believe that the creators of the reform operate based on social empathy to our drivers. To me it is far more akin to another competition fight, where the trade unions and businessmen’s interests in the West match somewhat when they need to push the businesses of the EU’s edges, alongside all their drivers, which they like no more than the famous “Polish plumber.” I remember well, how such a character was used to intimidate people by the opponents of European Union expansion in their advertising before the EU’s Eastern European members were ever accepted.

It is even more fun to read how prior to the elections and referendum on dual citizenship, this topic of carriers is becoming a field for propaganda, sometimes even losing common sense. Take how one national portal published an interview with a driver really or supposedly working in the USA, with the subheading noting he is doing his dream job and earns 18 thousand dollars a month, always sleeps at home and overall lives as if in heaven, only lacking dual citizenship.

All is well, but…

Everything sounds great, but official US statistics, which is easily accessible, shows when you check that the average long-haul driver’s annual wage in the dreamy USA is 45 thousand US dollars. This is more than our drivers get, working in the universally despised logistics sector, but when you divide 45 thousand by 12, you certainly do not come anywhere near 18 thousand a month. Such nonsense and brainwashing, however noble the aims may appear to those enacting this, lead one to doubt in the status of their health. After all, someone viewing everyone as stupid is often indeed very stupid themselves.

To end with, I offer enthusiasts, if they truly believe their ideas so, to not be modest and set themselves German or Swedish wages. All at once. Even better – higher wages! After all, someone needs to be at the forefront. At some Kukuraitis’ order, let Seimas pass such a ruling and we will all live.

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