TSQ (April 01, 2010)

Truck News

BOWMANVILLE, Ont. -As the trucking world becomes increasingly computerized and digitized, the notion of paper logbooks seems, to many, increasingly antiquated. Their would-be successor, the electronic on-board recorder, seems poised to become not only a more popular alternative to paper logs, but -if the Canadian Trucking Alliance has its way -mandatory.

While proponents of EOBRs say the technology eliminates the possibility of drivers cheating the system, many truckers say preventing the occasional bending of the rules -however insignificantly -can prevent drivers from getting the job done and cost them money. Which brings back the old debate: which payment method is preferable -by the mile or by the hour? We stopped by the Fifth Wheel Truck Stop in Bowmanville, Ont. to find out how truckers would rather be paid.

Gene Martel, a driver with Ryder Transport in Pickering, Ont., says he would stick with an hourly wage -his current method of payment -since it accurately reflects his time on the job. “Mileage is piece work and no other industry does that. Why they would do it in an industry that puts 80,000 lbs out on the highway going at 100 km/h is beyond me, but that’s the way they do it,” he says.

He says a better method for payment industry-wide would be to have a pay scale and treat trucking like a skilled trade.

“As truckers we’ve never united in the way like skilled trades have before, even though we’re probably running a lot more responsibility with these rigs than someone putting in plumbing or something. Not to demote them, but we’ve never organized ourselves into that type of system.”

Ken Dodds, an owner/operator with FMTK Holdings in Lansdowne, N.B., says a trip rate is fine for when you’re doing highway driving, but for city driving -especially in Toronto or Montreal -hourly is the way to go.

“You could waste a whole day in there just trying to get in and get out, unload and reload,” Dodds says of the two major urban centres. And what would be a fair hourly rate to deal with that? “For the amount of time that we’re out here, I would have to say between $20-$25 per hour. I think that would be fair for what we have to put up with in the city in terms of congestion and shippers and receivers.”

Gavin Spig, a driver with Kriska Transport out of Mississauga, Ont., says being paid by the mile usually makes sense for long distance trips, however, “Sometimes it would be better being paid by the hour, because a lot of times you sit around and you don’t really get paid as much. It depends -50/50 I would have to say.” Spig says that an hourly rate between $22 and $27 per hour would be fair.

Frances Brunelle, a driver with Acam Transport in Saint-Hyacinthe, Que., says pay should be dependent on the load. “For a tanker, better by the hour, but if you have good distance, by the mile. Both are good, but in different cases,” he said, adding that he believes Ontario drivers are usually paid better than Quebec truckers. Brunelle says a more conservative $18-$20 per hour would suffice for the responsibility of being a professional truck driver.

Shane Ellis, a driver with Kriska Transport out of Prescott, Ont., says hourly is the way to go. “With all your waiting time and delay time traffic and everything else, I think it would be a lot more profitable for a driver,” he said, adding that $20-$22 per hour would be a reasonable rate for truckers.

-Adam Ledlow is now on Twitter! Join today and follow his tweets at twitter.com/adamledlow.

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