working in the factories means also more money to spend and that
means a better economy. The support for the GDP and the support
for the balance sheet of each country in terms of tax income would
be signiCcant.”
In the car transporting sector there is a pressing need to renew
aging assets. Even if, with many markets depressed, there is no
immediate requirement for extra capacity there is a need for the
normal replacement of older equipment.
Unfortunately, companies are not producing as much proCt,”
says Baldissara. “ECG has an internal study which proves this. If
you take the 95 ECG members and drop the global companies –
the companies with over a billion euros in turnover - you can see
that there is no proCt in the industry.”
Baldissara is also concerned about the lack of long-term
forecasts. “We are living day-to-day and week-by-week and there is
no long-term plan,” he warns. “TrafCc Dows are imbalanced and
there is too much empty running. Today there is a car to move from
A to B but there is nothing to bring back. Tomorrow, when the
vessel or the truck has already returned, there will be cargo from B
to A but the transporter has already left. Due to the extremely bad
economic situation, OEMs are following the requirements of the
market day-by-day and the car transporters are doing the same.”
Shipping lines continue to express concern over regulations
put in place by the UN’s International Maritime Organisation – and
later ratiCed by the EU – that will limit sulphur levels in bunker
fuels to 0.1% by 2015 in the Baltic, most of the North Sea and the
English Channel. Juan Riva Francos, president of the European
Community Shipowners’ Association, and head of the Spanish Ro-
Ro provider Flota Suardiaz, cited studies that said the cost to
shipping lines would be 75% higher than currently, and could lead
to a modal shift of as much as 46% of freight from sea transport to
road.
All the studies we have seen have shown that there will be a
degree of modal shift. I haven’t seen a single study which says
otherwise,” says Mike Sturgeon, ECG Executive Director. “Estimates
of how much vary from industry to industry. This was something
that was done without any impact assessment being carried out by
the European Commission. Instead of the usual process being
followed, effectively the European Commission said that all the
IMOmember states had voted to do it so the EC would adopt it.
Only after they had agreed to do it did people start to think about
where the fuel would come from, where the technology would
come from, the ability to install scrubbers and the investment
required for LNG to be a viable alternative.
Now, the industry has to deal with this and if there are
downsides to it such as modal shift, which has a potentially
negative environmental impact, it is because there was no impact
assessment in the Crst place and, therefore, nobody has been able
to plan for it. I think they thought it was an easy win because the
member states had already voted it in. In principle, perhaps, it was
a good idea but, in practice, it has turned out to be a very poor
idea.”
One of the challenges facing the road haulage sector across
Europe is the chronic shortage of qualiCed drivers, something
which has been recognised in the European Commission at the
highest level.
There was a high-level report produced but, to be honest, the
proposals were not realistic,” says Sturgeon. “For example, creating
career opportunities for drivers’ personal development is all well
and good but, if you promote a driver to be something else, then
you need to Cnd another driver. I don’t think the report and the
proposals were written by people who have any operational
experience. The end of conscription in Germany has effectively
turned off a tap. There used to be a supply of young guys coming
out of a short stint in the army who were qualiCed to drive trucks.
This is true in every country where the level of the armed forces is
being reduced. Ex-military people tend to have very appropriate
skills and experience. They are generally extremely reliable and they
have a strong work ethic. As an employer in the logistics industry, I
would always look to the military to supply people but, as the
number of people in the armed forces shrinks around the world, I’m
not sure that we can rely on this source in future.
People just don’t want to be drivers any more as they may
have aspired to be 20 or 30 years ago. It’s a tough job, and our
problem is that, in our industry, it is a tougher job than it is in the
rest of the general haulage sector. You can get a job driving a truck
for a supermarket where you can go to work in a shirt and tie.
Somebody else will load and unload your truck with a fork lift truck
while you are backed-up to a crossdock and you never get your
hands dirty. Especially at this time of year, would you really want to
be clambering around on the top deck of a truck loading and
unloading cars in the snow and ice?
This sector used to carry a premium, and people took pride in
handling cars and wanted to do it. Today, more and more the focus
is on damage prevention. Drivers get their knuckles rapped or, in
the worst case get sacked if they damage a car, and if we as a sector
were to invest in recruiting and training drivers they’d stay for a year
and then leave and go to work in general haulage.
One of the major social issues is that our sector requires
people to stay away from home for a number of nights during the
week. This is not something people want to do; they want to go
home at the end of the day and if you’re driving for a supermarket
you can do that. It will be very difCcult to persuade people to come
back to our sector. I suspect that the only solution, as ever, is that
they will have to be paid more. We don’t necessarily want people
who are just starting out, we want more experienced drivers and
the only way to attract them out of a supermarket truck is to pay
themmore.
One of the issues which has been identiCed in the high-level
report, is that, whereas you have the newer member states in
eastern Europe which are a source of people prepared to work for
the money on offer and who have a good work ethic, they bring
their own problems in terms of a lack of language skills and the
expectation that, over time, there will be harmonisation of pay and
social conditions across all the member states. As their living
conditions rise to meet those existing in Western Europe, it is
expected that this source of drivers, of which many of our members
take advantage today, will dry up.”
a
Mike Sturgeon, Executive Director, ECG
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