Significant industry wage gaps forming

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TORONTO, Ont. – Almost three quarters of Canadian trucking and logistics companies plan to increase wages according to the latest survey from Cerno Research.

And that growth appears stable despite the continued sluggishness in the U.S. economy. The 73.4 per cent of companies planning wage hikes this year marks a slight increase from the 71.3 per cent of companies which had planned for increases in 2002.

Cerno indicates significant gaps forming between what top-end companies are paying to attract and retain trained staff and companies that have had to hold pay increases steady over the last few years.

“The gap suggests to me that there is a fair opportunity to make money in the industry because there are such sweeping differences in pay levels from the top and the bottom employers,” says Stephen Harrington, special projects director for Cerno Research.

Cerno’s 2003 Trucking Operations Reports are based on survey data collected from 488 Canadian trucking operations. The wage levels of more than 270,000 employees are represented in 108 different job descriptions ranging from junior employees to senior executives.

“This year we experienced an incredible 76 per cent growth in national response to our trucking industry survey,” says Harrington.

The Cerno reports are claimed to be the only annual reports covering the Canadian trucking industry that offer national and regional results.

Chris Morgan, vice-president of sales and marketing, says trends indicative of the state of the industry become evident when analyzing compensation ranges.

Morgan says the year-over-year rates for highway dispatchers on a national basis remain unchanged for the most part. However, when comparing the same position on a regional basis or by trucking practice, significant variances occur. The 2003 national average compensation for a highway dispatcher is $41,721.

Nationally, Cerno reported a wider variance year-over-year in the general manager position. Wages increased by 16.7 per cent, yet the same variances occurred regionally. The 2003 national average compensation salary and bonus for general manager is $70,040.

“Companies are focusing on developing effective HR practices and there hasn’t been that focus in the past,” says Morgan.

He says industry is beginning to pay more attention to issues of retention and are realizing that this is indicative of the core issues that need to be addressed.

“I think that companies who adopt strong HR policies now, and as things move more into logistics operations, will rise to the top – there’s no question,” says Morgan.

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