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Driver Inc Among  Many Pressures Weighing Down Trucking: Panel

Frustrations over the Driver Inc scheme are mounting as a tough freight market has heightened the impact the unfair competition on compliant fleets, industry leaders said at a recent event.

Speaking at the Truckload Carriers Association’s Bridging Border Barriers conference this week, Mark Seymour, CEO of Kriska Transportation Group, said Driver Inc companies are taking advantage of the system through illicit tactics and the “government simply doesn’t want to do anything” about it.

Truck News quoted CTA/OTA president Stephen Laskowski contends Driver Inc. fleets save as much as 30% on labour costs by circumventing certain payroll taxes by illegally classifying company drivers as independent contractors.

“Our message is simple to government and to industry,” Truck News quoted him. “This is clearly illegal, there is no grey area. It’s black-and-white but, unfortunately, we have a government that’s decided not to enforce the law.”

Meanwhile, Truck News report that carriers at the event also expressed frustration with a lack of progress in having regulators allow the movement of empty trailers from point to point in the U.S. Repositioning empty trailers has clear environmental and productivity benefits, but lawmakers are stubbornly resisting regulatory changes that would allow this.

“If we have the option to drop a loaded trailer, grab an empty and go somewhere else, it makes more sense than a driver idling in their truck for five to eight hours while getting live unloaded,” Seymour said. “It makes no sense.”

And he said many carriers reposition empties in the U.S. every day without consequence, gaining an advantage over those who follow the rules by the book. The CTA, TCA and ATA are all in favour of modernizing regulations to allow for the repositioning of empty trailers across the border

Costello vowed: “We are actively, I promise you, working this issue constantly because it just makes sense.”

But he said resistance comes from corners within government that feel if the rule is changed for trucking, it will also have to apply to other modes. And if it applies to Canada, it’ll have to be extended to Mexico as well.

“And when that happens, that’s when the labor unions start to get worked up,” he said. “I proposed, let’s do a pilot project just with Canada. Then they come up with another excuse.”

Earlier in the day, panellists discussed the immense pressure inflationary costs are having on the industry.

“I have to think it can’t be far away,” Seymour said of a thinning of capacity in Canada. “We are a resilient bunch by nature, but I don’t know how people can stand much more inflationary costs coupled with pressure on price.”

Laskowski said such pressures are exacerbated by government initiatives – such as carbon taxes – that further increase costs for truckers. “Our message from carriers to government is, you need to be aware of that and be cautious in what you’re doing and what kind of costs you’re putting on the carrier community,” he said.

Full story here.

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