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Transport and logistics companies up in arms over Belgium’s Parcels Act

14:52 07/07/2024

Belgium’s three federations of transport and logistics companies have lodged an appeal with Belgium’s constitutional court against a new law aimed at improving the working conditions of parcel delivery workers - potentially including meal delivery drivers.

The Parcels Act was due to come into force on 1 July and was introduced by Petra De Sutter, Belgium’s current vice-prime minister and minister for telecommunications, pending the result of ongoing government coalition talks.

The law, first published in December 2023, aims to stop breaches of labour and social security law in the express parcel delivery sector.

The main measures enforce minimum pay and maximum driving times for delivery personnel. The text also lays down that the rules will cover all delivery workers that distribute packages up to 31.5 kilos of goods, including food, from or to Belgium.

These companies must register with the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications (IBPT). In addition, every six months they need to list the number and type of couriers they work with, as well as the amount they are paid.

Some 1,200 firms including Amazon but also a myriad of smaller transport and logistic companies are protesting the legislation. But two giants in the delivery parcel business – Uber Eats and Deliveroo – are absent from this list.

This is because they continue to claim that the measures – would reduce flexibility and push up their costs – would not concern them, as they are not postal service businesses.

But, according to RTBF, it is unlikely the major takeaway companies like Uber Eats will escape the new regulation.

L'Echo journalist Maxime Paquay said the aims of the new Belgian regulation – to protect smaller businesses – may backfire. Its new demands and resulting administrative burden will likely cause some players, especially smaller ones, to leave the market.

This would reduce competition for mega companies such as Amazon, Uber Eats and Deliveroo. Ultimately and ironically, this will mean that even if they have to follow the rules, the dominance of these big players in the sector will increase.

The appeal against the new law has been lodged by FEBETRA (the Belgian federation of hauliers and logistics service providers), UPTR (the union that represents and informs Belgian hauliers and logisticians) and TLV (Transport and Logistics Flanders).

Written by Liz Newmark