Minimum wage for drivers in Norway

Norway is the second European country (after Germany) to have legitimized minimum wage regulations concerning professional drivers. They came into effect July 1. Minimum wage applies to both Norwegian and foreign drivers of vehicles of above 3.5 tons (allowable total weight), including buses. A Norwegian minimum rate of pay amounts to NOK 158.32 an hour (about PLN 44). Apart from the minimum rate of pay transport companies are obliged to pay allowance of NOK 307 a day (about PLN 140).

A Norwegian minimum rate is even higher than the one proposed in Germany which caused so much confusion among FTL companies in Poland. And it is five times more than the minimum allowance that applies in Poland.

If the truth be told, it is not the minimum wage that presents the biggest problem to Polish companies but dubious interpretation of new regulations despite the fact that they have been in force for several weeks now.

Application of Norwegian rates depends on who orders a haulage service. If an ordering party is a Norwegian company then everyone including a Polish carrier must abide by Norwegian minimum wage regulations. Many companies already consider a change of transport preferences to supplier/service buyer from outside Norway. Still, there are no executive acts, no one has a clue as to how control carriers effectively, and even Norwegians themselves admit that new regulations have been introduced without a comprehensive reflection on how to apply them. As of today, everyone concerned waits to see how this situation should develop and expects a clear explanation of how and who is going to control whom.

It is an open secret that new minimum wages introduced in Norway and Germany are to protect their internal transport market against competition from countries of Eastern Europe, Poland in particular. At the same time this affects local hauliers more and more often employ Polish drivers among others. Similar plans are being made by France. Polish Ministry of Infrastructure and Development has questioned legal status of German and Norwegian regulations (MiLoG) arguing that such acts breach the EU principle of free movement of goods and services. The European Commission has been reviewing the German act for over six months now. It is true that the German government has suspended the MiLoG application until the final decision by the Commission, but this applies only to transit of goods

It must be pointed out that even though Norway is not an EU member state; the country is bound by the European Economic Area agreement. Therefore Norway is legally obliged to obey the liberties of the EU internal market. In this case the Tribunal of European Free Trade Association may settle any disputes.

It appears that the fate of new minimum wage regulations in Norway will be settled to some extent by the European Commission's decision on the German MiLoG. If the decision is negative for the German government, the Norwegian regulations will be largely undermined, too.

From an employer's point of view, the best solution for the Norwegian rates would be their full chargeability regardless of the contracting party or carrier at any time if the transport process takes place in the territory of Norway. This would cause Norwegians to cover all the costs of their new regulations, because in fact they as end-users pay for the goods purchased outside Norway and in 90-95% of cases have transport preferences when exporting goods from Norway. Should we as carriers not struggle for the best possible conditions for our drivers?

 

Patryk Szymański

Vice President of Scandinavian Express

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