Wednesday, November 18, 1998 Published at 10:40 GMT
Truckers' anger at working restrictions
Truckers stuck in Kent as their European counterparts block ports
British truckers are to have their working hours capped at 60 per week under a new European Commission directive.
Currently, lorry drivers are exempt from the conditions of the directive.
And they say that restricting their working hours will result in increased costs to customers of the goods they transport.
British truckers accuse Mr Kinnock of "bowing to bully-boy tactics" from their European counterparts.
The Road Haulage Association (RHA) says the ruling will do nothing to improve safety or conditions.
It added that the Commission had conceded to demands by militant trade unions in Europe who had threatened to impose a "winter of discontent" across the Continent.
But commissioners point to statistics which suggest that tiredness in lorry and coach drivers is a factor in 2,000 road deaths in Europe every year.
"Not only has it chosen to burden our members with unnecessary red tape and costs, but it has also given the impression to the more militant transport unions that their threats of widespread disruption have been successful.
"By being seen to bow to these bully boy tactics, the commission has unwittingly sent the message that might is right.
"The saddest thing is that these regulations will do nothing to improve safety or conditions within the industry.
"Drivers are already prevented from driving more than nine hours a day under existing regulations."
Mr Hodges said that the only exceptions to this were "cowboy" operators who would flout the new regulations as they did the old ones.