The Swedish haulage industry is in the risk zone of “registering under flag of convenience”

By: Thomas Ström 9/4/14

Why is this not an important political issue? 

There is an election in Sweden next Sunday. It becomes abundantly clear by all the signs along the roads. At some places they are even hazardous. I wonder if the Swedish transport administration, which usually removes all kind of advertisement along the roads quickly, really has permitted this. I wonder what the consequences would have been if a company had covered the towns and cities in a similar way?

As with many other things concerning road transport, there is a lack of clear rules and regulations. And where there in fact are rules there is no one controlling that the companies follow them. As a consequence there are now more rogue haulage contractors in Sweden and they use social dumping among other things.

The business is under a lot of pressure from other contractors, who do not follow current legislation. According to the Swedish Association of Road Transport Companies, surveys show that approximately 50 % of traffic on for example the E4 are made up of foreign-registered vehicles. Because of this thousands of job opportunities are lost in Sweden. 

NTEX also has a few foreign-registered vehicles doing round trips to Sweden with goods from and to their home countries in Europe. We follow the current rules and regulations, but we are also aware of the fact that there are people who don’t. These are the companies that are threatening the entire Swedish haulage industry.  

I hear stories daily about weary hauliers who cannot lower their prices anymore. The profitability is still low and they cannot hold their own in the competition since their costs are higher because of wages and large investments. 

The big question is why no party has seized upon this? There is talk of making all truckers liable to pay taxes in Sweden, but nobody is taking it further. There is not one politician who talks about how the legislation regarding the haulage industry can be applied so foreign-registered vehicles can be prosecuted in a satisfactory manner as well. Instead, they are talking about introducing a kilometre tax, which probably would be the deathblow for the Swedish haulage industry.  

Please note that the queries posted below are not my personal opinions but rather a wonder of how we should proceed: 

Should Sweden keep a Swedish haulage industry which employ approximately 100 000 truckers?

Should we stick to the collective agreement? Or should the Swedish haulage industry adapt to the current conditions of the competition?

Should it, similar to ship transport, “register under flag of convenience” and relocate its business to “cheaper” countries. 

Or should contractors employ workers from low-income countries?