Government Treatment, Pay, Keep Truckers in Sour Mood
September 1, 2003
DON MILL, Ont. - They say time heals all. Apparently, however, the Canadian drivers and owner/operators require more time to get over their disenchantment with the industry.Truck News has tallied up t...
DON MILL, Ont. – They say time heals all. Apparently, however, the Canadian drivers and owner/operators require more time to get over their disenchantment with the industry.
Truck News has tallied up the results of our annual State of the Industry Survey and found that the low satisfaction levels among drivers and owner/operators with the trucking industry noted last year have not improved.
To be precise, 50.6 per cent of respondents to the nation-wide survey rated their overall level of satisfaction with the industry at barely or less than satisfactory (five or less on a scale of one to 10).
Last year, about the same number rated their satisfaction level with the industry at the same low level.
Respondents to the survey were fairly evenly split between drivers who worked for companies (46.4 per cent) and independent O/Os (44 per cent).
The remainder either worked for O/Os or for driver services.
Given that the industry itself clearly isn’t making them jump for joy, however, their overall level of satisfaction with their jobs came as a bit of a surprise: the majority (61.1 per cent) of survey respondents rated it at six or higher (on a scale of 10).
The overall response to the relationships with carriers was also encouraging: 61.8 per cent of respondents rated their satisfaction level with carriers at six or higher.
Happiness with equipment rated even higher: 70.8 per cent rated their equipment as satisfactory (six or higher on a scale of 10).
So if the men and women behind the wheel are generally happy with their jobs, their relationships with carriers, and their equipment, what’s causing them to be so sour on the industry?
To begin with, drivers are less than impressed with their treatment by government at all levels. About 67 per cent rated their level of satisfaction with municipal government treatment of drivers at below five on the satisfaction scale and an even higher proportion (73.1 per cent) rated their treatment at the hands of provincial government as barely or less than satisfactory (five or less on a scale of one to 10).
As for provincial highway networks, 54.2 per cent felt they were barely or less than satisfactory.
Asked whether they felt truck inspectors and weigh stations were fair, a perhaps surprising 56.8 per cent rated them at six or more on a scale of one to 10.
Federal government treatment of truckers rated particularly low, with 81 per cent of truckers reporting it’s barely or less than satisfactory.
Accordingly, the Trans-Canada highway also rated low; 60.7 per cent of respondents rated it as barely or less than satisfactory (7.5 didn’t provide a rating).
Federal attempts to address issues of concern to truckers got the following marks:
Meal allowances: 91.8 per cent of respondents were dissatisfied;
Tax breaks: 93.2 per cent were dissatisfied;
Hours of service: 68.98 per cent were dissatisfied;
Carrier safety rating: 48.9 were dissatisfied (45 per cent said they were satisfied and the remainder did not respond);
Border security: 51.8 per cent were dissatisfied;
Border efficiency: 78.2 per cent were dissatisfied;
The lumber trade dispute: 79.6 per cent were dissatisfied.
Driver treatment once at the shipper’s dock was also seen as an irritant, albeit to a lesser extent than drivers’ issues with government.
Asked to rate how accommodating were the shippers they dealt with, 58.2 per cent reported being satisfied. Asked how respectful of drivers’ time shippers were, respondents were fairly equally divided between those who are satisfied (50.4 per cent) and those who were barely or not at all (49.6 per cent) satisfied.
Particularly telling were the results from the question asking drivers how many hours they wasted waiting around at shipper locations: 35. 4 per cent said they wasted one to two hours waiting. Another 33.6 per cent said they waited two hours or more.
No more than 27.1 per cent reported waiting less than an hour.
It comes as little surprise that pay was a sore point for many – 45.3 per cent rated it at five or under.
Some distinct differences between drivers and carrier management on which job achievements deserve recognition may also be causing friction.
Driver perceptions of what deserves recognition and fleet reward systems are in sync in only two areas: safe driving (51.4 per cent of respondents want it; 56.8 get it from their fleets); and on-time delivery (22.1 per cent of drivers want it and an exact 22.1 per cent are getting it).
But there are wide gaps between the rewards drivers want and what their carriers are providing from that point on. Particularly noteworthy are the differences in recognition for fuel efficiency (32.9 per cent of respondents want it; only 13.6 per cent work for fleets that provide it); customer service (51.4 per cent want it; only 19.3 per cent receive it); and management input (35.4 per cent want it; only 3.9 per cent work for fleets that offer it). Respondents and their carriers were also far apart on recognition for learning new skills (35.4 per cent want it; 7.5 per cent receive it); and minimizing cargo damage (39.3 per cent want it; 19.3 per cent get it).
The survey also collected some key demographic information. The majority of respondents had between six and 40 years of driving experience, with a sharp drop-off in the numbers of those at the early and later stages of their driving careers.
The majority drove solo (92 per cent) and hauled internationally (56 per cent).
Drivers who work mainly within their own provinces, came in second at 28 per cent. Most (61.4 per cent) were paid by the mile, with those being paid by percentage coming in much lower at 17.8 per cent of respondents.
On a more personal note, more respondents were married with children (41.5 per cent) than just married (33.6 per cent).
And, contrary to the stereotype, there were few divorced drivers (5.7 per cent). In fact, there were twice as many drivers who were single (11.7).
The majority of those responding to the survey said they spent their weekends “working around the house” (37.5 per cent got roped in), while 20 per cent got to go fishing instead. The third most popular activity is rebuilding old cars (11.8 per cent listed this as their top weekend activity).
To sum up, truckers clearly love their jobs but frustrations with their pay, some of their reward structures, and the way they are treated by government continue to diminish their satisfaction with working in the trucking industry.
Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry. All posts by Truck News