Sweden should not end up in the same truck chaos that created fuel and commodity shortages in the UK. Minister of Infrastructure Tomas Eneroth (S) will call the various parties in the transport sector for a roundtable discussion. “I expect clear commitments,” he says.
Those who are to be invited to the talks are representatives of the haulage industry, trade unions and relevant authorities. The reason is reports of a shortage of truck drivers and poor working conditions that make it difficult to attract workers to the transport sector.
From February 2022, the so-called mobility package will take effect in the EU. This means, in short, that foreign truck drivers from the first day they enter Sweden must have Swedish salaries and agreements. The package also contains laws and regulations for so-called cabotage traffic and safety issues.
– Now I want to invite the parties, authorities and industry to say: now it’s up to proof. Now it is important to ensure that we pass the inspections and ensure that it becomes attractive to work in the transport industry, says Tomas Eneroth to TT.
British horror example
He points, among other things, to the United Kingdom, which after Brexit has had great difficulty in bringing certain goods and fuel to market – which has led to a shortage of the goods concerned.
– We see how things are going in countries where they have not built up their own capacity, but trust that drivers with dumped wages and poor working conditions will be responsible for a large part of the country’s transport. Sweden does not go that route.
Eneroth says he wants to see the entire industry take responsibility for making it attractive to work with transport.
– We have good opportunities to use the years ahead of us to restore order and order in the transport sector after almost 15–20 years in the Wild West.
Thousands are missing
There are 400,000 missing truck drivers in the EU, according to the Financial Times. Eneroth cannot answer how big the shortage is in Sweden today.
– But it is about thousands of drivers in the long run if we do not increase recruitment. Basically, a significant improvement will now be possible due to the fact that we have pushed through the mobility package. Then it is no longer the case that you compete out of Lithuanian or Eastern European drivers who live in their cabins, he says.
How big is the risk that we end up in the UK?
– I assess that there is a small risk for Sweden, but that there may be a risk of disruption in Europe. Not least for those countries that have a weak own transport sector
At the same time, it is not entirely clear that the mobility package will actually be implemented. The law has encountered patrols and several Eastern European countries, according to Eneroth with the Polish party Law and Justice at the helm, have appealed to the European Court of Justice.
– We have gone in and intervened, and Sweden does that very rarely, says Eneroth.
He says that the introduction of the mobility package can ensure fair competition in the market.
– It will be a very welcome signal to Swedish hauliers who have worked in headwinds for a long time and drivers who have had tough conditions. Now there is some morning air in the transport sector.
Facts: Cabotage traffic
Cabotage traffic is when a truck driver, for example, arrives in Sweden with cargo from another country and then performs a domestic transport within Sweden, to avoid driving empty back. Under current rules, three cabotage runs are allowed for seven days, although the European Commission now wants to make it possible for an unlimited number of runs over five days.
The cabotage system has been widely criticized for the way in which drivers from low-wage countries, especially in Eastern Europe, are used for transport in countries where it becomes significantly more expensive to use domestic drivers and hauliers.