Last night for the first time in about 7 years, I attended a state-of-the-industry function—a panel discussion in Toronto hosted by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals. I thought I would take the time to listen to what our industry leaders had to say about trucking in Canada.
The last time I was in attendance for one of these industry functions, our leaders painted a picture of “Rainbows and Lollipops” and almost immediately afterwards we entered into the recession of 2008; a time which may only be comparable to the great depression of the 1930s. So, I thought it might be best for my blood pressure to remain as an association member, but physically and emotionally stay away.
On my drive to the event last night, I couldn’t help but think that—given the state of the trucking industry and all the issues leading to our inability to attract new drivers—that things at this event might be different. I thought that some attention would be given to the men and women behind the wheel and that smaller carriers and owner-operators, who are so vital to the Canadian trucking industry, would have been spoken for. But what I got was the exact reason I have stayed away—much more of the same “Rainbows and Lollipops.”
If I was a logistics provider (a non-asset based carrier) or a shipper in the audience last night, I may have left scratching my head. Shippers and brokers alike in the last few months have been struggling to move freight, and are coming to a realization that something has to give. Yet last night what they got was as follows:
The industry is in good shape.
Financing is widely available. (The banks have opened up the vault?)
Drivers are making decent wages.
Truck owner-operators aren’t part of the picture.
From a growth perspective, our industry is in great shape; the combination of economic growth and the driver shortage creates an opportunity for those who have financing readily available to purchase and merge for the sole purpose of achieving truck and driver capacity. Unfortunately, however, that is not the case for most carriers in Canada.
To even suggest that drivers are fairly compensated is, in my mind, a joke! I would agree that in some specialized fields, it is true that drivers make a decent wage and even local drivers making in the range of $45,000 – $50,000 for 50 hours of work per week might be deemed as a fair wage, especially considering they are home every night and weekends with their family.
However, for the over the road long distance (general freight) truck driver, to suggest that an average of $57,000 a year is a decent wage? Think again. To accomplish this means 48 weeks a year pounding the pavement six days at a time, away from their families, with a serious responsibility to public safety. For anyone to suggest that is fair wages is absurd.
Oh, and did I mention that the 120,000 owner-operators that make up the Canadian trucking industry were not even mentioned at last night’s event?
Whether you are a company driver or owner-operator what are your thoughts? And what do you think a fair wage is? Tweet us @jbtTransportinc or share your thoughts with us on our Facebook page. We want to know!