Transport companies from Austria are in an increasingly difficult position. Drivers who are currently working in the industry will retire in the next decade. The situation will then significantly deteriorate. Austrian politicians, instead of looking for solutions that are beneficial for the transport sector, propose to further regulate the industry.
According to a survey carried out by the Department of Transport and Communications of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO), 77 percent of carriers are in a difficult business situation because they cannot accept part of orders due to lack of drivers.
On average, three drivers are missing in each surveyed transport company. The most affected by the shortage of staff are primarily small enterprises. Demography is also to the disadvantage of carriers: one-third of truck drivers are between 51 and 60 years old and will leave the labor market in about ten years.
The search for successors is in full swing, but the interest in truck driver profession among young people in Austria is negligible. Companies are trying to reach young people using the services of an employment agency or using social media with very little success. The reason for this is, above all, the poor image of a trucker.
Transport prices in Austria are already growing
The transport capacity in Austria last year was clearly lower than the demand for transport services, not because of the lack of trucks, but because of the shortage of staff in the industry. The increase of rates for urgent orders in Austria varies according to local carriers between 5 and 20 percent. According to Nikolaus Glisic, managing partner at the Austrian company Petschl Transporte, nowadays the one who has his own fleet has the advantage, although this business model has been outdated over the years. If necessary, Austrian companies outsource transport to subcontractors. Although such a way of working has its positive sides, it has also led to a transfer of a large part of orders to the foreign competition market. However, there is no lack of orders, and the lack of truckers remains the main problem of Austrian carriers.
Up to 5 percent of the European fleet is not in use precisely due to the lack of drivers – emphasizes Franz Danninger, spokesman for carriers from Upper Austria and the head of the Hofmann & Neffe company.
Austrian proposals on the Mobility Package
As transport is one of the most important sectors of the economy, one would expect the Austrian government to take appropriate measures to support entrepreneurs in solving the increasingly serious problem of lack of employees. However, the politicians there took the opposite direction and instead of making life easier for carriers, they want to complicate it even more.
At the beginning of October, the proposal of the Austrian Presidency regarding the Mobility Package was officially presented. It turns out that the Austrians are demanding even stricter regulations than the earlier draft of the Package.
The proposals of the Austrian Presidency regarding the Mobility Package provide for inclusion in the provisions on the posting of cross-trade and cabotage. Therefore, the posting would apply not apply only to drivers in transit and bilateral transport.
The Austrians also offered compulsory returns not only for drivers but also for vehicles to the country of registration of the company (every four weeks). In addition, they would like to introduce a 14-day grace period in cabotage transport and include cabotage in the regulations on the posting of workers from the first day.
The Austrian idea for the Mobility Package and the situation of the Austrian transport industry is another proof that the regulations in the European Union are created in complete isolation from market reality. Lack of drivers and restrictive regulations related to, e.g. the posting of employees, would complicate and perhaps even prevent the activities of many companies. As a result, the problems with satisfying the market needs for transport services will be even greater, and the increase in their prices will hit the pockets of all citizens in the EU. Unfortunately, these increases will not necessarily mean higher salaries for drivers. Companies operating in international transport will have to cover higher operating costs – for additional personnel that will deal with the settlement of foreign pay components, or at the request of external contractors. Is this really the right direction for the development of the transport industry in Europe? Reason suggests that no.