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Clear Shot: Truckers heal thyselves

It comes as no surprise that truckers in Nova Scotia are facing just about the same kinds of problems as truckers across the country....




It comes as no surprise that truckers in Nova Scotia are facing just about the same kinds of problems as truckers across the country.

Namely getting locked into rates that won’t necessarily cover the fuel price increases forecast for this summer.

With fuel prices in N.S. expected to climb over $1, truckers are understandably worried that the rates they’ve negotiated so far with the provincial government for contracts like road building, etc. won’t cover the cost of operating their machinery or paying their drivers, if they aren’t actually driving their trucks themselves.

So it’s no surprise the Truckers Association of Nova Scotia hopes to negotiate a clause covering fuel surcharges in their government contracts.

Will they get it?

So far no one knows. That’s because while the association has already negotiated an average rate increase of six per cent for government contracts, the union still has to rely on its members to stick together.

That’s harder than it seems, as any association executive will tell you, especially in a market where truckers compete for work by constantly undercutting each other’s prices, all the while rattling their sabres at public association meetings, so as to make sure their colleagues know they CERTAINLY WON’T work for less than the agreed upon rate.

There were plenty of sabre rattlers at the recent Truckers Association of Nova Scotia meeting held in Truro in April.

But one wonders whether all of them are willing to put their money where their mouths are – namely not accept government contracts without the required rate increase or fuel surcharges.

One wonders especially because heavy equipment operators and their union have successfully negotiated contracts that traditionally pay better than the contracts negotiated by the association executive.

Now it’s easy to point the finger at the association executives, but do you really think they want their members to be paid less than heavy equipment operators?

That just wouldn’t make sense would it?

The fact is, association members are entirely responsible for their own situation, something executives very gently pointed out when sabre rattling threatened to overtake the annual general meeting. The bottom line: if your association members don’t stick to what they agreed on and stop undercutting each other’s prices when it comes to bidding for a government contract, the rates aren’t going to go anywhere but down.

Hopefully, the membership of the Nova Scotia truckers association, and truckers across the country, will see the merit of this argument and stick to their agreed upon rates and fuel surcharge systems. To do the contrary is clearly bad for them, and ultimately bad for the industry as a whole.

– Ingrid Phaneuf can be reached at iphaneuf@trucknews.com or (416) 510-6896.


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