flagging out polandAlso in Poland the adoption of Germany’s minimum wage is monitored with fear. The general opinion in the Polish press is the implementation of the German minimum wage of € 8.50 per hour threatens the Polish transport branch.

The Polish newspaper headers are rather unanimous: “€ 8.50 kills your Polish transport company’’, ‘’German minimum wages for Polish drivers too’’, ‘’€ 8.50 for the Polish driver’’, ‘’Is € 8.50 the death strike for your Polish transport company?’.

The current Polish interpretation of the German law is that the German minimum wage of € 8.50 is also applicable for Polish drivers of Polish transport companies. Moreover according to Polish legislation, Polish drivers are entitled to net daily payments (the so-called per diems) in addition to a basic salary.

Combining these two complementary national legislations would result in a situation the German driver becomes cheaper than the Polish driver, since for German drivers additional net payments are not applicable. The Polish transport sector fears it will loose its leading role in transport. Next to the financial impact of the German minimum wages, Polish transport companies are also concerned about the bureaucracy around this minimum wage. Finally the transport companies also foresee salary discussions with their own drivers.

The Polish transport sector urged its government to take action, which they did. For instance the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested the German embassy in Warsaw for a written explanation of the precise consequences of this national law for foreign transport companies. Moreover the German law seems to be in conflict with European legislation, such as the freedom of services within the European Union.  Hence the Polish Ministry of Infrastructure has requested the European Committee for its interpretation of this law and their judgement up to what level this German law is in compliance with EU legislation.

The Polish fear is not limited to Germany. Poland’s opinion is Germany is not entitled to impose its national legislation to other countries. However in case this turns out to be legally justified, the Polish transport foresees other European countries – amongst other the Netherlands, Belgium and France – will impose similar measures. The big question is then: ”what minimum wage should be used by internationally operating Polish transport companies”?