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Truck drivers become key EU election issue in Bulgaria

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Eurospeed carrier company trucks parked at a parking lot in Sofia, Bulgaria, on May 8. The future of Bulgaria’s vast number of low-wage truck drivers has become a top campaign issue in the country heading into European Parliament elections, with debates raging on how new EU rules could threaten the workers and deepen divisions between rich and poor nations in the bloc. (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

SOFIA, Bulgaria — The future of Bulgaria’s vast number of low-wage truck drivers has become a top campaign issue in the country heading into European Parliament elections, with debates raging on how new EU rules could threaten the workers and deepen divisions between rich and poor nations in the bloc.

The European Commission wants to put restrictions on cargo transport to ensure adequate rest for truck drivers and limit driving distances. Bulgaria, where the transport sector accounts for 15% of GDP and employs some 200,000 people, fears it will erode its workforce’s low-cost advantage. It says it could cost jobs and force Bulgarian truckers to move to Western Europe, worsening a wealth gap within the EU.

“This package would directly deprive more than 150,000 Bulgarian families of bread and livelihood,” says Angel Dzhambazki, a former member of the European Parliament who is running in this month’s election.

The new rules concern truck drivers’ postings, driving and rest times, and access to the market. Especially worrying for Bulgarian truckers is the requirement that they spend their rest time in a hotel rather than in bunks in their trucks. The rules would also force drivers to return home every three or four weeks with an empty truck.

Dzhambazki said that the European proposal, called the Mobility Package, would cause thousands of Bulgarians to emigrate to wealthier European countries to be closer to the markets they work with. He sees the proposal as an effort by countries like France and Germany to protect their own businesses from the competition of lower-wage countries like Bulgaria.

The proposal has passed a first reading in the European Parliament, with a second approval needed for it to come into force. It has the strong backing of EU heavyweights France and Germany.

Bulgaria, which joined the European Union in 2007, will elect 17 members of the European Parliament’s 751 seats on May 26. Germany, by contrast, will provide 96. Bulgaria could seek strength in numbers, as several other countries in Eastern Europe also oppose the new EU transportation rules, but it remains an uphill battle.

“In the year of Brexit and the European elections, decisions like the Mobility Package only deepen divisions and fuel nationalist feelings in the EU member countries,” warned Madlen Kavrakova, legal advisor of Bulgaria’s union of international hauliers.

Kavrakova told the AP that denying truck drivers full access to the single European market would set a dangerous precedent and could lead to restrictions in other sectors.

“Does it mean that Europe is driving at different speeds?” she asked rhetorically.

Under the new restrictions, many Bulgarian haulage companies could be forced to relocate to countries closer to their key markets in Western Europe. That could mean the emigration of thousands of truck drivers, depriving countries like Bulgaria of an established industry.

Dimitar Rashkov, the owner of transport company Eurospeed, has managed trucks driving across the continent since 1994 and says the new rules will “separate us as people from Eastern and Western Europe, like it was once many years ago.”

Truck driver Ivan Gospodinov is convinced that Europe must be equal for all.

“Like the Germans or Italians who come to Bulgaria and feel comfortable here, we also need to feel comfortable when we go there because we are a big family,” he says. “That is what the European Union stands for.”

 

 

 

 

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Reddaway celebrates centennial anniversary while continuing its evolution

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One hundred years after its founding, Reddaway operates with 5,000 trailers, 1,500 tractors, and is now part of YRC Regional Transportation, along with Holland in the Midwest and Southeast, and New Penn serving the Eastern United States (Courtesy: REDDWAY)

TUALATIN, Ore. — Reddaway, the longest continuously operating Oregon-based regional less-than-truckload carrier, is celebrating its 100-year anniversary this year.

Founded in 1919 in Oregon City, Reddaway continues to advance its services for the 21st century while remaining the premier service provider in the Western United States and Canada, according to Reddway President Bob Stone.

Reddaway’s founder, William Arthur Reddaway, began the company with one Ford Model T truck primarily serving Portland and Oregon City. One hundred years later, Reddaway operates with 5,000 trailers, 1,500 tractors, and is now part of YRC Regional Transportation, along with Holland in the Midwest and Southeast, and New Penn serving the Eastern United States.

“It’s humbling to think about the legacy of innovation, continuous improvement, exceptional reliability and the personalized support that have not only carried us through the past 100 years, but have allowed us to thrive,” Stone said. “I have had the pleasure of witnessing it firsthand for the past 25 years. I’m honored to work alongside the dedicated people who make Reddaway a company that our customers enjoy doing business with. It’s this culture and our people who help us continue to thrive into the next century.”

As part of the company’s 100-year celebration, Reddaway will be hosting appreciation events in the Tualatin office as well as field offices to recognize and thank the thousands of loyal employees who work hard to take care of the customers they serve, Stone said.

The western U.S. provider of LTL services, Reddaway currently employs over 2,800 people and operates more than 40 service centers. With high on-time reliability and one of the lowest claim ratios in the west, Reddaway continues to lead the industry in customer satisfaction.

Reddaway has earned multiple distinctions over the years, including these recent awards such as the 2018 West Coast Regional Carrier of the Year from Worldwide Express, 2018 LTL Carrier of the Year from DHL Supply Chain and the 2018 Carrier of the Year, West Regional, by GlobalTranz.

For more information, visit www.reddawayregional.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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ACT Research For-Hire Trucking Index: Weak finish to 2nd quarter

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The June Pricing Index at 43.8 (seasonally adjusted) recovered a good bit of last month’s sharp decline, up from 38.8 in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest in survey history. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index (June data) showed nearly across-the-board declines, with capacity again the lone exception.

The Volume Index dropped further into negative territory, falling to 43.2 (seasonally adjusted) in June from 46.7 in May.

The June Pricing Index at 43.8 (seasonally adjusted) recovered a good bit of last month’s sharp decline, up from 38.8 in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest in survey history.

“Volumes and utilization have been down seven of eight months, and the supply-demand balance has been loosening for eight straight months,” said Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s vice president and senior analyst. “In line with several second quarter earnings warnings from truckload carriers this week, this is further confirmation of a weak freight environment. May’s Pricing Index looked a little anomalously bad, so it was good to see that pick back up, though still not a great level in June.”

Denoyer said volumes reached a new cycle low in June, likely due in part to rapid growth of private fleets, the slowdown in the industrial sector and some inventory drawdown.

“This coincides with most other freight metrics,” he said. “The supply-demand balance reading loosened to 41.4, from 42.1 in May. The past eight consecutive readings have shown a deterioration in the supply-demand balance, with June the largest yet.”

ACT is a publisher of new and used commercial vehicle (CV) industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American market, as well as the U.S. tractor-trailer market and the China CV market. ACT’s CV services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, major trucking and logistics firms, as well as the banking and investment community in North America, Europe, and China.

 

 

 

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Oil price rises on Mideast tensions, stock markets cautious

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After six weeks of declines that totaled 13 cents, the price of a gallon of diesel went up 1.3 cents a gallon for the week ending July 8 but dropped four tenths of a penny last week. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

BANGKOK — The price of oil rose on Friday after the U.S. said it had destroyed an Iranian drone near the Persian Gulf, where a lot of the world’s oil is shipped through. Stock markets were largely stable as investors monitor earnings and the ongoing trade talks between China and the U.S.

Energy prices were ratcheted higher after President Donald Trump said a U.S. warship had downed an Iranian drone that had been threatening. While Iran denied the incident, it’s the latest incident to increase tensions and uncertainty in the region, where oil tankers have been attacked or threatened.

About 20% of all oil traded worldwide passes through the Persian Gulf, so investors are aware of the potential for disruptions to ship traffic.

The U.S. benchmark for crude oil advanced 71 cents, or 1.3%, to $56.01 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the international oil standard, picked up 98 cents, or 1.6%, to $62.91 per barrel.

Obviously, the price of on-highway diesel is an outgrowth of the price of oil.

Diesel has gone down seven of the last eight weeks.

After six weeks of declines that totaled 13 cents, the price went up 1.3 cents a gallon for the week ending July 8 but dropped four tenths of a penny last week.

Stock markets were mixed, with Britain’s FTSE 100 shedding 0.1% to 7,484 and the CAC 40 in Paris falling by the same rate to 5,543. In Germany, the DAX rose less than 0.1% to 12,236. Wall Street looked set for small gains, with the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.2% and the future for the S&P 500 adding 0.1%.

Reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke with their Chinese counterparts as planned, with more talks to come, helped ease some concerns over the deepening trade war between Washington and Beijing.

The standoff over China’s longstanding trade surpluses and its policies aimed at building up advanced high-tech industries has added to concerns over slowing demand and weaker Chinese growth.

Expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will move quickly to cut interest rates have also helped buoy sentiment recently.

Comments by the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, John Williams, suggesting central banks need to “take swift action” when conditions turn adverse, have whetting investors’ appetites for buying, analysts said.

“Investors are highly sensitive to dovish comments from Fed presidents these days, as they are trying to figure out whether the Fed would lower its interest rates by 50 basis points by the end of this month,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya of London Capital Group said in a report.

“Given that a 50-basis-point cut would trigger a further rally in global equities, any remark of dovish nature translates immediately into higher asset prices,” she said.

In Asian trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumped 2% to 21,466.99 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1.1% to 28,765.40. The Shanghai Composite index rose 0.8% to 2,924.20, while in South Korea, the Kospi added 1.4% to 2,094.36. India’s Sensex slipped 1.3% to 38,390.88. Shares rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Investors are looking ahead to corporate earnings.

So far, in the U.S. the results have been mixed, though only about 13% of S&P 500 companies have reported, according to FactSet. Analysts expect profits to fall 2.4% overall by the time all reports are tallied.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 107.60 Japanese yen from 107.30 yen on Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.1239 from $1.1279.

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