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Total cost of an international truck driver ranges in Europe between 55,810 and 15,859 euros.
Differences per hour are quadrupled, going from 8 to 33 euros.
The National Routier Committee (CNR) carried out a comparative study of the conditions of employment and pay conditions of international lorry drivers in Europe. From the company’s point of view and in terms of competitiveness, what matters most is the overall cost. The chart shows the total cost of an international lorry driver, calculated by combining the three components: salary and bonuses subject to social security contributions; employers’ contributions and lastly, travel allowances plus all other components not subject to contributions.
In annualised figures, the total cost to a business of each of its international lorry drivers ranges from 55,810 euro per year in Belgium to 15,859 euro per year in Bulgaria. The more median trend is in the region of 45,000 euro per year in Western Europe and 20,000 euro per year in Eastern Europe. Portugal and some Eastern German states are closer to the Eastern averages.
However, in the new Member States, in Portugal and in some cases Spain, especially from drivers interviewed at truck stops, point to quite different procedures for calculating wages. Drivers receive a fixed basic monthly salary close to the minimum wage, in addition to which their wages are topped up by a variable component, calculated according to one of the following: a bonus per kilometre (around 0.09 euro per km), a bonus per trip, a set bonus per country crossed when the journey comprises several trips between third countries. The most common method is that of the bonus per kilometre. This is used in over 80% of cases and especially in Eastern Europe, while the bonus per trip is more common in Portugal and Spain.?
On the other hand, in order to work out European lorry drivers' productivity, it is essential to estimate the hours they work. However, this is the most difficult part to analyse. Depending on the strictness of the on-site inspections of hauliers and the level of detail in the respective Member States' employment laws, the concept of working hours is equated to a greater or lesser extent with driving time. This means that in most cases, lorry drivers no longer use all the tachograph modes, but only "driving time" and "break/rest".
The hourly cost of international driving within Europe therefore ranges from 8 to 33 euro per hour, making a fourfold difference between the highest and lowest. For a significant number of EU Member States, the current situation in the international road freight transport single market is therefore untenable.
The least costly of the sample are Bulgarian drivers, followed by most Eastern European countries, at around 10 euro per hour. Slovenia and Portugal coincide at approximately 13 euro per hour. Spain and the Eastern German states fall in the middle of the sample with costs of 19.5 euro and 16.6 euro per hour respectively, while for Western German states the cost is in the region of €25 per hour. ?
This gap of over 50% within the same country illustrates the flexibility of Germany's economy. The least economically developed states probably need this cost differential in order to attract investment, provide jobs in regions where unemployment is still high and combat competition from their neighbours. ???
The differences and gaps highlighted in this study are considerable and involve all aspects of international lorry drivers' employment and pay conditions: salaries, social security contributions, travel allowances, driving time and working hours.
From the companies' perspective, these discrepancies concern the largest production cost for their road freight transport business. The "cost of driving personnel" is therefore an objective factor that distorts competition in Europe.
In addition to wage gaps, this study reveals other underlying differences, which may be summarised as follows: a lack of harmonisation regarding terms of pay, a lack of harmonisation regarding the composition of wages, in which the percentage of overall income exempt from social security contributions ranges from 10% to 76%; and certain countries are exceptions to the European norm on a particular factor: Belgium on the rate of employers' social security contributions; France on driving time volume; Spain on the number and complexity of its collective agreements, etc. ?
According to the statistics, the market has become hyper-concentrated around several countries: Poland alone has a 25% share of the EU market, while the 4 leading countries have captured 50% of business in the 28 Member States put together. The fact that international competition laws have been put into practice so markedly and so rapidly within a liberalised RFT market is, of course, related to the inherent mobility of its "labour" factor of production.
The goals set out in the EU's founding treaties of social “harmonisation while improvement is being maintained” and a level playing field in terms of competition conditions in Europe are still a major work in progress, at least in Europe's road freight transport sector.
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