The salaries of drivers from the East and West have leveled out – says Ferenc Lajkó, Waberer’s chief executive. The competitiveness of eastern companies, such as the Hungarian logistics giant, does not result from the lower labor costs of truckers.
The companies from the East compete with western carriers on fields such as „productivity, efficiency, the rate per kilometer of load, fleet maintenance costs, purchasing power, and networks” – said Ferenc Lajkó in an interview for eurotransport.de.
The price advantage resulting from employment costs existed at the time of EU enlargement. At that time, there was a marked discrepancy between driver wages in Western and Eastern Europe. However, the lack of drivers in Western Europe has forced shippers to recruit drivers from Eastern Europe on a large scale – for an adequate remuneration. So there was a rapid and aggressive development of drivers’ wages in Eastern Europe. Waberer’s did not miss out on this development: three years ago, we raised our salaries by 20 percent” – says Lajkó.
„Wages have become very similar, so they ceased to be a factor in the choice of carriers. Our competition is based on other aspects. The salaries of our drivers correspond to what a Hungarian driver could earn in the West” – adds Lajkó.
There’s a lack of drivers, and Waberer’s is growing in strength
Waberer’s revenue increased by one fifth in 2017 and operating profit by more than half. Ferenc Lajkó said that this year he expects growth at a level similar to last year. The company plans to grow its revenue through „organic and inorganic expansion,” increasing efficiency through better use of technologies and data, and expanding the customer base by targeting the auto-moto and e-commerce sectors.
When asked how, despite the lack of drivers on the European market, he is able to find employees, Lajkó explains:
We are increasingly looking for drivers in other countries. Waberer’s opened an office in Romania and began to employ drivers also in Poland. It seems to be a promising solution. The Polish labor market is four times larger than the Hungarian market. In summary, with 10 million inhabitants in Hungary, 20 million inhabitants in Romania and 40 million inhabitants in Poland, we have access to 70 million people. We could also start recruiting in the Balkan countries, but because of the visa requirements, it is more problematic. We also take into account the increased involvement in Ukraine.”