French authorities have raided four Norbert Dentressangle (ND) premises in the east and south-east of the country.

The raids are part of an investigation initiated by border police and are focused on suspected illicit working practices involving Romanian truck drivers.

The French transport and logistics giant said investigation teams had focused their attentions on "examining the conditions of our recourse to European sub- contractors."

The staff targeted by the inspections had co-operated fully with the investigators, ND added.

An ND labour union official said the searches appeared to have targeted areas of the group’s premises where drivers from Poland and Romania were based.

Speaking under anonymity on French radio station, Europe 1, a member of the French border police claimed that following its acquistion of a Romanian haulage firm in 2007, ND began transfering two-thirds of its 300 drivers to work in France.

This practice, whch marked the beginning of the investigation into ND’s activities, was uncovered in May 2010 when border police stopped a minibus crossing from Italy carrying drivers to France, he said.

"The drivers were brought to France to work for period of four to five weeks, based at ND’s depot in Motte-Servolex, near Chambéry. They were given trucks to drive which were stationed in France but registered in Romania. Under the pretext they were carrying out international transport operations, they were working for ND exclusively in France."

The official claimed that ND had acted illegally in not declaring these workers while it had also broken French labour legislation as the drivers were allegedly only paid €1.44 net per hour for a 56- hour week when the minimum legal rate for a French driver was around €10 net per hour for a maximum working week of 48 hours, he underlined.

The head of ND’s Transport division, Hervé Montjotin, dismissed the claims:

"We have scrupulous respect for national and European transport legislation and our standards on safety, staff training and the quality of our trucks, trailers and equipment, is the same everywhere."

The Romanian and Polish drivers employed by ND work on international routes in full conformity with the law, Montjotin emphasised.

Staff unions had repeatedly denounced ND’s use of ’low-cost’ drivers from eastern Europe working for the group in France and had written to the French president to raise the issue, a the union official said.

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