A bigger paycheck drives truckers to accept longer hours

OTTAWA (Nov. 24, 1999) — One in five truck drivers in Canada works more than 60 hours a week, compared with 2% in other occupations, according to a labor study released yesterday by Statistics Canada.

The report suggests that drivers work longer hours to compensate for low per-hour pay. Drivers at for-hire trucking companies earned an average of $13.94 per hour, some 7% less than manufacturing machine operators or assemblers, and only 56% of the hourly rate for workers in natural and applied sciences.

Only 13% of those working long hours in 1995 would have preferred fewer hours for less pay. Full-time drivers who put in 60 or more hours in a typical week earned an average $854 a week or $44,400 a year, assuming year-round work. Among unionized truck drivers putting in long hours, weekly earnings averaged $898, or $46,700 a year.

In contrast, average weekly earnings for all occupations in 1998 were $666, StatsCan said.

Drivers at for-hire trucking companies logged slightly more time on the road than drivers employed in private trucking. In 1998, about one-third (31%) of drivers in for-hire trucking usually worked 60 hours or more per week, compared with 11% of those in private trucking.

At the extreme, about 10% typically logged seven-day workweeks.

Federal Labour Force Survey data show that about 230,000 workers, or 2% of Canadaƕs workforce, were employed as commercial truck drivers. This reflects a 13% increase since 1989 compared with a 9% overall employment growth.

The article, titled “Work patterns of truck drivers,” is available free by fax. For more information, contact Irwin Bess at 613/951-9605.

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