Last week, a new wave of demonstrations related to the pension reform that the authorities want to introduce again passed through France. Trade unions that are opposed to change have organized demonstrations and gatherings in many cities. There is no denying that the transport sector has been hard hit by the protests in France, which are still disrupting the normal functioning of carriers. The Fédération Nationale des Transports Routiers, an organisation of entrepreneurs involved in transport, estimated the losses caused to the industry by the protests in December.
To assess more accurately the impact of blockades and protests on the activities of transport companies, the FNTR conducted a survey among its members. 826 companies took part in the survey. The results show that the French transport industry has been hit hard by blockades of roads, ports and refineries. The impact of social protests has been felt in all regions, although they have not been so intense everywhere. Differences were also visible depending on the size of the company. In the segment of large companies with more than 250 employees, 75% of those surveyed were affected, while 47% of those with less than 10 employees were affected.
In turn, looking at the decline in turnover, small companies with less than 10 employees were more affected and recorded an average decline in turnover of 19% compared to the same period last year. Large companies (over 250 employees) have reduced their turnover ‘only’ by 10%, reads the FNTR analysis.
The FNTR stresses that a total of 60% of road transport companies have been affected by protests. As a result, they lost about 15% of their turnover compared to the same period last year.
Transport routier de marchandises: Enquête d’impact des mouvements sociaux sur les entreprises, une étude @FNTR montre que 60 % des entreprises du transport routier de marchandises ont été impactées https://t.co/KJCKFFoGRB pic.twitter.com/QHrJkUidPF
— DIMOTRANS Group (@DIMOTRANSGroup) February 11, 2020
Blockades organized by protesters have translated into additional costs
For carriers, the roadblocks have had very tangible consequences. Trucks that have had to bypass the blockages have travelled more kilometres, resulting in higher fuel consumption, more overtime for drivers and sometimes more empty runs. Transport companies also had to bear the cost of penalties for late delivery, as well as additional repairs if the vehicles were damaged by marchers.
According to FNTR estimates, more than 80% of transport companies faced additional costs due to social movements. In regions such as Brittany and Burgundy-Franche-Comté, nearly 100% of the carriers had to face extra expenses.
Lost time not only in ports
The protests in France also hit the multimodal and port sectors. The former had problems in particular because of the serious blockades of container trains. On average, companies in this sector lost more than a quarter of their revenue (26%) and 18 days of business.
The additional costs generated by this situation hit small companies the hardest as sales dropped by 30% compared to the previous year. On the other hand, companies operating in ports lost 12 days of business and 17% of turnover on average.
Pas de trêve dans la grève ! Les dockers haussent de le ton partout en France. Ports de France bloqués et en grève : 🚫 Marseille 🚫 Fos et Lavera (port pétrolier) 🚫 Rouen 🚫 Le Havre 🚫 Lorient 🚫 Bayonne 🚫 Bassens (Bordeaux) pic.twitter.com/eIErzZ4SJE
— CGT TUIFRANCE (@CgtTuifrance) December 31, 2019
The FTR concludes that the biggest problem French carriers had to deal with during the protests was the lack of timely information about actions and blockades. This made it impossible to take into account the difficulties in route planning and to find alternative solutions to reduce, for example, lost time.