BTB-ABVV pushes for “safe rates” legislation in Belgium

From 24 - 28 September, the BTB-ABVV will take part in a week of action and lobbying organised by the South Korean transport union KPTU in Seoul, which aims to maintain and extend the Korean ‘safe rates’ system.

Since this system came into force in South Korea, multinational companies have been making every effort to have it abolished. From the very first day, the BTB-ABVV has supported its colleagues in the KPTU, by taking all kinds of action and leading a wide variety of initiatives in Belgium, with the aim of maintaining the system in South Korea and having it introduced in Belgium.

Downward spiral in the road transport sector

Practices, such as the procurement of cheap contracts and unreasonable demands made by companies entering into contracts for road transport services, are causing a continuous downward spiral. Road transport costs within the supply chain are constantly under pressure. This often means that drivers are forced to drive for long hours despite being tired, drive too fast or travel with excessively heavy loads. This downward spiral is endangering all road users.

The ‘safe rates’ principle

The safe rates system was introduced in Australia and South Korea following pressure from the trade unions aimed at improving road safety. Frank Moreels, president of the BTB-ABVV: “The idea is simple: sensible rates for the transport sector result in better working and salary conditions. Sensible rates enable companies to pay better wages to their drivers.” In this way, a driver working a 40-hour week instead of the current 60 hours will earn a decent wage. Working fewer hours leads to a better work-life balance and enables drivers to rest. Ensuring that drivers can rest means better road safety.

Safe rates work

Studies show that, since the safe rates system was introduced in South Korea in 2020, the average monthly working time for truck drivers has fallen by 9%, while fatigue has decreased by 4.8% and monthly rest time has increased by 4.7%. Instances of speeding and surcharges have also fallen by 39.1% and 61.7%, respectively.(1) Studies in Australia show that the introduction of Safe Rates in New South Wales between 1989 and 2021 reduced the number of accidents involving articulated trucks by 171 units and saved 205 lives.(2)



(1) Korea Safe Rates Research Group (2022). Analysis of the Early Impact of the Korean Safe Rates System and Proposals for Sustainable Implementation

(2) David Peetz (2022). Regulation of Remuneration and Safety in the Road Transport Industry in Australia. Submission to the ROK National Assembly