The increased penalties of the Swedish Transport Agency are putting the competition out of play

By: Thomas Ström 4/24/19

The Swedish Transport Agency's new sanction fees towards the haulage industry.
On March 1st last year, the Swedish Transport Agency’s sanction fees for Swedish haulers were raised from a maximum of 200 000 SEK or 10 percent of a company's turnover to 800 000 SEK or 1 percent of the turnover, during the two-month period being controlled in conjunction with a company control.
Meanwhile, nobody is controlling the foreign haulers' vehicles.
The competition is being put out of play.

This is what the Swedish Transport Agency states on its website. 
“The rules on driving and resting periods aim to ensure healthy competition between the players in the road transport sector, to give drivers a pleasant social situation and to contribute to fine road safety. The Swedish Transport Agency therefore carries out company inspections to see if Swedish companies comply with the rules and live up to the responsibility they have as a transport company.”

This could very well be the case. However, over xx per cent of all transports to and from Sweden are currently performed by foreign haulers, who are not affected by these controls.
None of them risk any sanction fees if their drivers make the same mistakes as the drivers who drive for Swedish haulers.

The Swedish haulage industry is already hard-hired. The lack of drivers, increased costs for fuel and low margins mean that several entrepreneurs choose to throw in the towel. They believe that they do not have the same terms when working as their foreign competitors.

The Swedish Transport Agency claims that it’s the same for Swedish haulers in the other EU countries. “The Swedish haulers are not controlled there. The haulage is only controlled on its home market.”
But that’s not really true. The difference is that many countries do not control their haulers in the same way as they do in Sweden. They only control the drivers.

The background is that Sweden has a requirement of controlling three per cent of all working days performed by drivers covered by the driving and resting rules.
The EU has determined which rules apply in all EU countries, but each member state decides for itself how large the fees should be and whether the driver or the hauler should pay. And that varies greatly. In Poland, for example, it’s the driver who has made the mistake and must pay the cost while in Spain it is the opposite – the driver does not pay anything.

In Sweden, the driver is inspected 28 days back in time and can get a maximum of 10 000 SEK in fees for the errors he / she has made.
On the other hand, when it comes to the offending driver’s Swedish haulage company, the Swedish Transport Agency can go 12 months back in time and check errors in the tachograph. The slightest deviation is registered and entails a fee.

Sweden is a big country and it takes a long time to drive from Malmö to Luleå. By law, the driver must stop and rest for 45 minutes after 4,5 hours of driving.
After nine hours in continuous driving time, he must then take a day off.
All of this can be followed in the tachograph 12 months back.
This means that a correct round-trip drive between Malmö-Luleå takes just over 70 hours, while a vehicle from a foreign haulage company that does not risk any controls, can stretch drive for about 20 hours. This is solved either by the driver having an extra driver card or by the fact that there are two drivers in the car for the price of one. After the stretch drive, the driver rests for a few hours and then it is time for new stretch driving again.
This means a time gain of just over 20 hours. It would not surprise me if the foreign haulers – who drive to and from northern Sweden – use this as an argument in their procurement with customers on the continent.
This is what I call a distorted competition.
Who wants to run a business under such conditions?

Professional drivers take advantage of Swedish haulers

By: Thomas Ström 4/4/19

There is a great shortage of professional drivers in Sweden and throughout Europe today.
This means that as a haulage owner, you try to make use of every possible opportunity that is available in order to acquire new or extra staff. This has resulted in a situation that has become very costly.
It appears that some drivers have put in system to take advantage of the Swedish haulers.


The reason is that Swedish haulers pay very well, usually between two to four times the monthly salaries compared to other countries. Some drivers therefore take the chance to work as much as possible for a limited amount of time.
This system is inviting people to cheat. Because who wants to rest for 45 hours during the weekend in a country you’re only going to work in for a few months?
This is why scrupulous drivers borrow licenses from peers that are currently not in service on the Swedish market. Or even worse: they use counterfeit licenses.

This way, a driver can work on his own driver's license for a haulage during the weeks and thanks to a borrowed or forged licenses for another haulage on the weekends.

Here's an example of a scenario:
A previously unknown person to the hauler gets in touch and says that he is a driver and wants to drive extra on the weekends to earn some extra cash. The person concerned has a valid driver’s license and driver card. The haulage company has no opportunity to check whether the driving license and driver card are correct, because no authority responds to these types of inquiries for intergrity reasons.
The driver gets the assignment to work for a few weekends.

The problem for haulers arises when the Swedish Transport Agency does a corporate control, which I have written about in my latest blog posts.
In some cases, the Swedish Transport Agency finds that the driver's licenses and/or driver cards are fake or stolen, and require fines from the hauler for every time it has been used by the driver. It doesn’t take a lot of times before the sanction fees are up to 100 000 SEK. 

When the hauler notifies the concerned driver, he or she can get upset and angry. "That’s not true, my papers are completely legal". The driver can prove his innocence.
When the haulage owner then raises this point in front of the Swedish Transport Agency, the sanction fees are written off in some cases. But in order to succeed with this, the haulage company must have a solid foundation of evidence. Therefore, it is no wonder that the law firms' fees to Swedish haulers have increased over the past year.

But since some haulers can deal with dozens of additional drivers within one year, it is difficult to confront all concerned drivers because they only worked a few weekends several months ago. It is impossible to find them to gain access to their evidence.
The haulage company can easily pay up to 100 000 SEK times nine drivers, i.e. 900 000 SEK.

The Swedish Transport Agency is careful to point out that they listen to arguments concerning each individual case. Therefore it is not surprising that haulers who contact lawyers to appeal often gets a reduction of their penalty fees to a certain extent. But as I already mentioned – the submission of evidence is always with the hauler.
Who can cope with running a business under such conditions?

About Ströms blogg

 

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