While traveling to Ottawa recently, I had the opportunity to listen to a talk radio program geared towards the Canadian transportation industry called Trucker Radio News and Talk.
On this particular show, a driver phoned in to raise an issue that should concern all of us in the industry. The driver had arrived at his location where he was to pick up his load.
Once the driver backed into the dock, he said he settled in to wait while he was loaded. After a while, the driver asked if he could use the bathroom, to which he was told no. ‘We do not allow drivers to enter our facility,’ was the response the driver said he received.
The driver ended up being on site for 15 hours, was granted no use of a bathroom facility, and was not allowed to leave the premises while being loaded. I would love to say this is an isolated incident, however those of us who have been in the industry and on the road are fully aware this is not a one off.
There are two main issues here that are of major concern. One is the fact that a driver is being denied access to a washroom facility while on site. Trucking companies themselves generally will have facilities, the issue arises when their drivers are at a shipper’s or receiver’s premises.
It is deplorable that a driver can be denied access to a bathroom in 2017. This amounts to a complete lack of respect for the driver, and no basic understanding of human decency.
How can you hold someone on site for hours and not expect them to need to use the facilities?
Carriers must demand better treatment of their drivers. If a carrier is aware of customers who treat their drivers this way, they need to deal with it and hold their feet to the fire.
Work with them and demand that they find a way to allow your drivers access to facilities. If they refuse, then perhaps you need to remove them as your customer. If you don’t, you are telling your drivers that the money is more important than their basic human rights – and that is a hell of a message to send to your employees.
I understand if you don’t make money, your business doesn’t exist. However, if you don’t stand up for the rights of your drivers, you will lose the good ones you have, and then what kind of shape are you in?
The other major issue in this case is the driver being held on site for 15 hours to be loaded. How on earth can we allow this type of delay to occur?
I certainly hope the driver was compensated for his time, and that the trucking company demanded compensation for the downtime of its driver and equipment. Even if the driver and carrier were paid, this does not relieve the main problem.
With hours-of-service rules, the driver in all likelihood was out of hours once loaded, and would then have to wait another eight hours to reset his clock. Even if paid, how would you like to spend a whole day sitting around doing nothing but waiting? I wish I could also say long wait times are a rare occurrence, but we all know this occurs far too often. Maybe not to the extreme of 15 hours, but hours of delays at docks are not uncommon.
No business should have to accept or put up with this type of delay, and neither should any driver. As an industry, we go on about the lack of youth coming into our industry, the lack of females we employ, and a looming driver shortage. Would stories like this attract you to the industry?
We always talk about an image problem we need to fix. Well, this is a prime example of why we have that image problem. I am sure most reputable carriers deal with issues like this, and would never allow their drivers to be treated this way. In most cases private carriers are insulated from this issue as their deliveries and pick-ups are made from their own facilities.
To the rest of you, if you ever want to solve our impending shortage, and recruit young new talent to our industry, wake up, get your head out of the sand and demand fair treatment and respect for your workers. Otherwise, do the rest of us in the industry a favor – and leave.
Mike Millian is president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada, the only national association that represents the views and interests of the private fleet industry. He can be
reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.