Monday, June 13, 2016

Road Haulage Industry Expresses its Views on Brexit

Hauliers Speak Out and Demonstrate Sharp Divisions
Shipping News Feature
UK – Some months ago Jack Semple, the Road Haulage Association’s (RHA) Director of Policy, put together an informative document giving a view of the forthcoming vote on Britain’s position as regards staying in, or leaving, the European Union. Now the organisation has revealed the results of its own survey of members to understand their position on what is undoubtedly a vitally important decision now known internationally as ‘Brexit’.

The RHA (as with this publication) is keen to stress its neutrality on the referendum choice and maintain a position of total impartiality, but Mr Semple’s perspective piece certainly covers much ground which has not been adequately investigated in much of the media, sectors of which appear to be plainly biased in one direction or the other.

The RHA survey results show that 60% of the members who took part are in favour of their company leaving the EU, while 30% wish to remain part of the EU and 10% are still undecided, a stark contrast to many other similar investigations and one which demonstrates clearly the variation in management positions between large and small freight organisations.

Among the SME member organisations (operating less than 65 vehicles), 62% expressed a desire to leave, and only 28% felt they should remain. By comparison, the majority of companies running larger fleets of vehicles showed they wanted to remain, seizing 80% of the vote. Only 17% of those larger companies felt they would benefit from leaving the EU. Chief Executive Richard Burnett observed:

“The numbers speak for themselves, they show a very strong difference of view between SME and larger haulage companies. And it is a reality that a significant proportion of those saying they believe ‘Leave’ is in their best interests cite wider political reasons. It’s also clear that many of our members are frustrated by what they see as a lack of clear independent facts in the debate.”

In common with an opinion expressed almost universally in the weeks leading up to the vote many respondents expressed frustration at what they see as this lack of clear unbiased factual arguments on both sides. Opinions expressed by members wishing to leave the EU included the perception that membership of the EU had increased the regulatory burden, and helped foreign hauliers compete unfairly.

Many also cited wider political reasons for their decision. There is also concern over issues such as trucks from abroad crossing UK borders filled with cheap diesel to avoid paying fuel duty. Another concern was that companies from outside the UK are able to hire cheaper labour, making it difficult for hauliers to compete, in short all the moans one can hear at any UK truckstop.

For any engaged in the logistics industry who wish to read an interesting set of observations on how leaving or staying within the EU might affect the sector the link in the first paragraph will lead to Jack Semple’s original comments.