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  1. Re: A Looming Fuel Crisis in France? Just had a call from one of our drivers in Portsmouth, it would appear the residents are trying to empty the petrol stations in Portsmouth. Apparently there is a queue stretching back beyond Sainsburys to get fuel at the garage on Mile End Road. For god sake, what are these people trying to do, create an artificial fuel crisis? Micheil & Jacqui
  2. Re: A Looming Fuel Crisis in France? We hate to continue this discussion, but as we have just returned from a meeting with the regional CCI and thought it onmly fair that everybody should be made aware of the latest situation. The only topic discussed was that of fuel prices (at present: diesel 1.38€ per litre, unleaded 1.56€ per litre and these are our bunker rate, not pump prices) and the impact it is having on the economy of the region. Our President informed the meeting that nine more operators had ceased trading in the past week and that over two hundred people had become unemployed and he expected more to follow in the coming weeks. He also informed the meeting that some of the bigger haulage companies were withdrawing up to 20% of their fleets from service in a bid to stay solvent. He was of the mind that by the end of 2005 the industry would have shrunk by some 15 - 20% and that the used vehicle market will be at rock bottom prices and that the price of commercial premises would fall or possibly stay empty for a considerable time. His tone was neither optimistic nor pessimistic, just realistic. What surprised us was that there were representatives from the Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and Dutch haulage industries observing the proceedings. Afterwards there were conversations and discussions about the state of the industry throughout Europe and the problems facing us all. Everybody we spoke to was of the mind that the industry would contract and only the multinational and specialist operators would survive and that the small inefficient operator would go to the wall. The mood was that the days of doing a job just to show turnover and make no profit were gone and that everybody had to realize that and pay the going rate to get their merchandise moved. For our part we will not contract, we will ensure that we only take on work that is profitable, refuse to discount any job and withdraw vehicles from all non-profit making work and non-essential journeys, such as, running 200 kilometres to collect the next load, unless the company in question is willing to pay for the dead running of the vehicle, instead parking up in an area until a return load becomes available at a price that suits us, collecting parts, purchasing and collecting sundries, taking office equipment for repair, non-essential visits to clients etc. We also intend to ensure that we do not waste diesel on unprofitable work. We will not expand our fleet either, instead hire in vehicles from the rental/hire companies as and when required, that way we are not sitting on needless overheads. By withdrawing vehicles from service and laying them up will add further to the numbers unemployed, thus more expenditure by the government and a further drain on the economy. The upside is with fewer vehicles on the road, it becomes a sellers market, and the haulage industry can and will increase its prices. To that end it was agreed that all members would increase their prices by 15% across the board on all new work and add a fuel surcharge to all existing work from midnight tonight. So a job that cost a 1,000€ yesterday will cost the buyer 1,150€ tomorrow. This is in line with other regions that have already implemented this increase. The downside to all this is that it could mean higher prices for the consumer, less frequent deliveries as suppliers will wait until they can fill a complete vehicle before delivering and less variety and stock in the shops, It also means companies that do cease trading will get a lot less for their assets as there will not be a market for them, thus the greater their insolvency. So how are the institutions going to recover their losses, answer increse interest rates on loans etc. Also the industry will have unwanted infrastructure, overheads, and in the case of good companies excess staff that still have to be paid. We are of the mind that the industry and its employees have decided that we are entitled to the same reasonable standard of living as everybody else and will stick together to ensure this happens. The only way to do that is to ensure that we get a fair price for our services, if that means we turn away unprofitable work then so be it, because the companies that, at present, perform unprofitable work just to keep the wheels moving are creating turnover without making a profit will not be around in a years time as they will not be able to improve themselves without incurring further debt and that debt has to be financed and at what rate. It's just a vicious circle!! Micheil & Jacqui
  3. Re: A Looming Fuel Crisis in France? I thought it was about time I re-ignited the debate, just to show that I’ve been keeping up to date. Having just finished reading yesterday’s copy of “The Times”, where I noticed a piece about the price of fuel and the effect it could have on the projections given by various governments as to economic growth over the next 12 months. It would appear that most governments were working to a figure of between 1.1 and 1.3%. This, most economists are saying, will not happen and that growth will only be around 0.6% and there are doubts about the sustainability of that percentage. When one adds this all together with the recently announced increase in gas prices by 14%, and that makes a 40% rise since 2002, it makes me wonder if the price of energy is going to bring about a substantial slowdown in the economy. This article also pointed out that every home actually spends 10% of their nett income on energy for the home. On the fuel protest front, I am hearing rumours that there is to be a rolling blockade of the M4 (between Bristol & London) next week, which will include not only Haulage Companies, but also Coach Operators, Taxi Companies and some members of the public. I have also heard that the group that blockaded Oil Terminals & Refineries a few years ago are considering doing the same again very soon unless the government reduces the tax on fuel. So, it appears to me that it is not just us that have decided that the price of fuel is too high, but some of the British population have come to the same conclusion and are ready to act. Micheil
  4. Re: A Looming Fuel Crisis in France? Spain is cheaper than France, but prices are rising by the day. As to long-range tanks, most new vehicles come with 2 x 400 litre tanks, but you cann fit a "belly" tank that fits under the "fifth"wheel, this adds another 400 litres. The downside is that "belly" tanks are illegal in UK - thank the government - just done to prevent the hauliers taking advantage of cheaper fuel in Europe. Micheil & Jacqui
  5. Re: A Looming Fuel Crisis in France? We have looked at the issues put forward by members and have tried to address some them. So to start with, let us take a closer look at the scenario that has been put forward: If a truck travels 1000 miles, at 9 mpg and diesel costs £4.00 a gallon that gives one a fuel cost outlay of approximately £445. If that fuel then costs £5.00 a gallon then the fuel cost increases to approximately £556. That by anybody’s reckoning is an increase of 24% on fuel costs. If one then takes the average yearly mileage for the average 44-ton lorry as being in the region of 220,000 miles per year, then with the increases we are seeing then the fuel cost jumps from £97,500 to £123,320 per truck per year. So when one is operating 60 vehicles, as we are, then one’s extra fuel cost is £1,549,200 per year. One also must take into account with the spiralling cost of oil there will be price rises for other oil-based products: e.g. engine oil, gearbox oil, tyres, mud flaps, parts used in the manufacture of vehicles, all these will increase the overheads of the haulage industry. Another point that the majority of people do not understand is that the haulage industry does not price ongoing work on a daily basis, but quotes a price that is held for, normally, a year. When the client accepts that contract price, the haulier has normally built into it a percentage for increased costs based on what is known at the time, not what we have seen in the past six months. Thus one has a situation, that in the present climate, that is costing the haulage industry money. It should also be understood that “Goods in Transit” insurance premiums are rising nearly as fast as fuel costs. This again, is not something that could be foreseen a few years ago, firstly we had 9/11, then the attack in Madrid and last of all the terrorist attacks of July in London. After each one of these incidents insurance premiums have risen. So we, the haulier are faced with ever decreasing income, when compared with expenditure. An example being La Rochelle to London, 44-ton Truck (full load), a year ago we were charging around £1,100 and on that we were making approximately 18%, today we are lucky to make 6%, for that we count ourselves fortunate as some haulage companies are struggling to break even. If every road haulier were to charge the going rate for the job, and by that we mean make a reasonable profit then we could see inflation rise to around 7% and that could have the effect of possibly bringing on a recession and the consequence of that being a rise in unemployment. As to the value of the load, that in most cases is irrelevant as far as the haulier is concerned providing it fits into a standard 12-metre ISO trailer, the client is paying to move it from A to B, no matter whether it’s oranges or washing machines the price is the same!!. However for very high value cargoes then there are operators around who specialize in this type of work for which the client pays a hefty premium, likewise with STGO classes of goods. It seems to us, and somebody might like to prove us wrong, that the man in the street wants his/her needs supplied as cheaply as possible. If that is the case and the public expects every haulier with 60 vehicles to absorb these increases mentioned above, then within a short period of time there could be no vehicles left on the road, as there will be companies closing down in rapid succession. This will have the effect of increasing unemployment and thus shortages of everything that is sold in shops will start to happen. As it is we have heard of 14 haulage companies of good repute having to close in the past month due to spiralling costs. A year ago trying to find a good Class 1 HGV driver was almost impossible, today you can take your choice, this has occurred because companies have either closed down or have gone bankrupt. As to the working week, that is another issue, our drivers work a 48-hour week every week, as do many other companies drivers. That is the legal maximum we can ask our drivers to work – not French legislation but EU legislation, the same applies right across the EU. As for the governments not having their own cash that is correct they do have to raise it through taxes. But when one looks at the amount of money that is wasted then one should ask questions. The other thing to bear in mind is that when companies fail, for whatever reason, then it is the governments that have to pay out. So there has to be a balancing act between income and expenditure, if haulage companies fail, then there is unemployment, thus expenditure on the part of governments and loss of revenue. Quite honestly until governments realize that they cannot use the motorist, be they private or commercial, as a milk cow then this situation will prevail. It will come to the point, one day, when everybody says “enough is enough” and cuts down on the fuel they buy – result lower revenues for governments. Isn’t better to have 50% of £100 than 80% of £50, just a thought. Maybe this will go some way to explaining the situation as we see it. Micheil I.J.Homewood – Joint Managing Director Sulio Visant – Operations Director H.S.M.International SA
  6. Re: A Looming Fuel Crisis in France? Don't even think about going there! Maybe be just dyed in UK, but here it's nearly as bad as TVO - and that is ****. The other thing is that "red" diesel will do all kinds of damage to ECO3 & ECO4 engines, and replacing them is not cheap. Micheil & Jacqui
  7. Today, we read the following article printed in Ouest-France, our local newspaper and it does make interesting reading. As a servixce to members and guests we have translated the entire article so that all may know what is happening: Road haulers claim assistance in the face of increasing fuel costs. As Diesel prices climb, the lorry drivers thunder Because of the ever-increasing rise in the cost of diesel, the road haulers of Unostra started, yesterday, to block fuel deposits in order to obtain assistances of the government. "A general watchword was given by Unostra for blocking for an unspecified duration some of the strategic sites in France, the oil terminals, the distribution centres or the borders" the instruction of Catherine Pons, president of Unostra, is clear. The objective also: "To challenge the government stronger than we have not been able to do it for two years on the economic catastrophe for our corporation vis-à-vis the rise in the price of the fuel" Problems in the West The road transport of French goods, already weakened by an increasing European competition and a morose economic situation, undergoes a rise of more than 21 % in the prices of diesel since the beginning of 2005, according to recent figures' from the ministry for Industry. Unostra, which represents 4,500 members –mainly independent companies of modest size -, pointed three claims. Firstly, a significant fall in TIPP (inland duty on the petroleum products), to bring back it to the European average. Then, a reduction in the professional tax by the removal of the vehicles from service. The haulers complain, indeed, "to pay full pot" the TP on the basis of price of a new truck whose value decrease, actually, very quickly, and three, the reduction of the employers' social contributions over the hours other than control. On the ground, the mobilization started. Yesterday, of tens of trucks blocked a fuel depot, close to Mulhouse (Haut-Rhin), and in Frontignan (Hérault) - survey yesterday evening - two refineries in Côte-d'Or (evacuated last evening), and two others in Port-la-Nouvelle (Aude). In the West, Unostra in Pays de la Loire deferred until this morning blockings of deposits expected on Monday because of the presence of the police force. Brittany is also on the point of launching some form of action. Unostra also hopes that the farmers and other professions (driving schools, ambulances, taxis) affected by this problem will join the movement. Failing this, for the moment, it is imperative that the other employers' federations (FNTR or TLF) are convinced. In the immediate future, the Ministry for Transport announced that it wants "to set up, as soon as possible, an effective and fast measurement making it possible for the haulage companies to reflect the fuel rises in the price of their services" and "to finalize an additional reduction of the professional tax". The road haulers will make their own judgement. For our part, as a company severely affected by these increases, we support whatever action is taken as we are operating at virtually ZERO profit. So that we can continue to operate and provide employment something has to be done by our government to assist all road hauliers. We hate to say this but a steady and continuous supply of merchadise, especially foodstuffs, MUST come before the needs of social transport if we are not to be driven into a recession. A continuous upward spiral of fuel prices will only lead to an increase in the cost of living. Micheil & Jacqui
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