Bulgarian Truck Drivers: Cross Road project findings and the road ahead


As part of its Road transport activities for the ITF Action Week, on October 10th FTTUB met with the management of the Road Administration Executive Agency (RAEA) at the Ministry of Transport. The purpose of the meeting was to present the findings of the in-depth research into the work and life conditions of Bulgarian truck drivers on European roads, conducted within the ETF-FTTUB joint project Cross Road.

 The meeting was hosted by the Deputy Minister of Transport Mr Todorov. FTTUB was represented by Daniela Zlatkova, Executive Secretary and Road and Rail transport expert, and Georgi Georgiev, international relations expert. RAEA delegation featured Mr Voynovski, the Director of SAI (State Automotive Inspectorate) and RAEA head of international activities.

Ms Zlatkova presented the major problems faced by Bulgarian truck drivers in Europe, identified after 5 meetings, 2 in-depth researches and over 100 drivers interviewed:

 >> the ‘double contract’: Bulgarian version of the contract differs dramatically from the version in the employer’s language, thus the drivers never know what contract they are actually signing;
>> the ‘Cyprus branch’ or ‘postal box’ – a fictitious branch of a European company is registered in Cyprus in order to hire truck drivers who work exclusively abroad and never meet their boss in person;
>> 60% of drivers are paid on a per km basis, so only driving time is considered working time, while their job also requires them to perform activities which are not counted towards their working time;
>> from the moment they are contracted, drivers are required to manipulate their tachographs in order to provide false working time data, thus being denied their right to 45 minutes rest time;
>> 80% of the drivers admit they suffer from chronical fatigue but would not dare speak to their bosses for fear of losing their jobs;
>> rest time is spent inside the driver’s cabin, without even the minimum sanitary conditions.

 Daniela Zlatkova handed the Deputy-Minister of Transport and the Management of RAEA joint letters from FTTUB and ETF describing the measures taken by French and Belgian governments to protect the rights of the drivers. They insist on the strict observance of the Regulation for the driving time and rest time, and that in the cases of violations, the sanction should be for the employers, not the drivers.

The management of RAEA informed FTTUB that they are constantly working on reports of unloyal competition, submitted both from Bulgaria and abroad. From the beginning of 2014 only, 80 trucking companies’ licenses were terminated, and 100 others are still being investigated. RAEA also train their inspectors regularly to be able to recognize cases of tachograph manipulations.

 FTTUB and RAEA agreed to work in cooperation for the stricter observance and application of the regulations, and to meet on a regular basis.