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Truck drivers from Switzerland are under increasing pressure. Forwarders are more willing to choose cheaper foreign workers, such as those from Poland and Romania.

The Swiss feel the breath of Eastern competition on the back of their necks. We are talking both about carriers, who are losing their share on the market, and the drivers. Swiss “Tages Anzeiger” daily described the situation of the local transport industry and the business model which gradually gains popularity in the Alpine state. It turns out that local entrepreneurs more often rely on foreign drivers.

For example, „the daily newspaper quotes the advertisement of Galliker company, which sought drivers for international routes on the Slovak labor market. The company does not require experience – only appropriate permissions. It offers remuneration at 670 euro and 62 euro of daily allowance. As Peter Galliker, head of the company, underlined in his comment for “Tages Anzeiger” – “this is a normal, even a bit higher” salary.

Almost all large companies set up their offices in other countries so as to acquire trucks, hire drivers and operate more profitably throughout Europe – said David Piras, head of the trade union „Routiers Suisses”.

The Swiss are rarely commissioned with international transports in Europe due to the high level of their remuneration.

As the daily asserts, even transports in Switzerland are more often performed by foreign truckers who are willing to take a job for remuneration of about 4,000 Swiss francs. For comparison, Piras asserts that Swiss truckers earn at home approx. „5,000 francs, which is barely enough to lead a decent life”. The Swiss are concerned about the fact that they are not able to compete with Poles and Romanians. As pointed out by the newspaper, Polish and Romanian recruitment agencies provide an abundance of attractive offers on the basis of agreements with Swiss employers.

Not only truckers compete in Switzerland

According to a study carried out upon the request of VöV (Association of Public Transport) and Astag (Association of Commercial Vehicles) by Ecoplan research firm, goods transport performed by foreign carriers is cheaper by 13-17% on average compared to services rendered by Swiss entrepreneurs from the industry. The most serious players, according to portal, are Polish companies with approx. 30% share on the European market.

The Swiss are protected by the prohibition of cabotage

The issue of cabotage in Switzerland is governed by the Agreement between the European Community and the Swiss Confederation on the carriage of goods and passengers by rail and road (Landverkehrsabkommen). It protects the Swiss market against cabotage from foreign carriers. It excludes, for example, carrying out transport from Zurich to Lausanne by a German or a Polish truck. Currently, negotiations over changing the agreement between Switzerland and the European Union are underway. The EU calls for a relaxation of the rules.

According to forecasts, after lifting the ban on cabotage, Poles could offer prices up to 25% lower than the Swiss, which would undoubtedly weaken the local transport industry even more. According to the head of “Suisse Routier”, lifting the ban on cabotage would lead to the loss of 80 thousand jobs in Swiss transport.

Western companies satisfied with the services of the Eastern carriers

The Swiss are trying to defend their market against competitors from Central and Eastern Europe. Data from the report „Posting of workers in transport – opinions and concerns of European entrepreneurs” show, however, that many Western entrepreneurs are fond of their cooperation with carriers from New EU states.

Results of a survey carried out upon the request of Trans.INFO amongst 1,700 companies show that entrepreneurs from Western countries often use the help from transport companies from Central and Eastern Europe. This is done by up to 91% of freight forwarders (the sum of answers „often” and „quite often”) and half of the shippers.

On the other hand, when it comes to the level of satisfaction with the services provided by carriers from the new Union, one can see that the vast majority is satisfied. Among freight forwarders from the West, 30% gave an affirmative response and 70% claimed to be rather happy.

Interestingly, Western companies do not adhere to lower „dumping” – as often called by carriers from the old Union – rates offered by Central and Eastern European companies. The first two reasons indicated by freight forwarders from West include “modern fleet” (67%) and „the quality of services” (61%). Whereas most shippers as the cause of their choice underline “the quality of services” (70%) and – on the second place – “lower prices” (50%). In case of freight forwarders, this element was on the third place (51%).


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