SUPER-AMORTIZATION HANGING IN THE BALANCE: TENSION AMONG HAULIERS
Transporters alarmed by new legal measures subject to approval: a further 50 million going from road to sea transport?
Alarm! This word seems to best describes the situation of a sector grappling with a series of legal measures that are a cause of severe anxiety for professional transporters, trade associations and even manufacturers of light and heavy duty commercial vehicles. The first point of tension was the possible non-renewal of the super-amortization policy for industrial vehicles in the 2018 Stability Law, a source of great concern for Unrae (the association representing foreign vehicle manufacturers in Italy) in the face of the current market situation.
"Even in our recent meetings with the institutions - explains Franco Fenoglio, president of Unrae’s industrial vehicles section - we clearly mentioned the importance of making these funds structural, seeing the importance of renewing the National industrial fleet, starting with a multi-year renewal of the super-amortization scheme, of the Sabatini Law and dedicated investment funds for the road haulage sector."
"Given the recent market trends - insisted Fenoglio - we can safely say that failure to extend one of the above mentioned tools will inevitably lead to a slowdown in the fleet’s renewal program, thus jeopardizing the creation of an environmentally sustainable and safe transport system: the exclusion of Industrial Vehicles from the Super-amortization scheme, will slow down the development process of the sector, going against the intentions previously manifested, time and again, by the Minister of Infrastructure and Transport."
Basically, Unrae joined road haulage associations in asking that "both the Government and the Parliament think seriously about the negative consequences that the elimination of such benefits would have on industrial vehicles and consequently on a sector that must be considered both strategic and essential for the entire national industry".
As mentioned in the opening, the are many other reasons for concern. One of these relates to an amendment to the Budget Law that will deprive the road transport sector of a further 50 million euro a year to be allocated to maritime transport. At the moment, this is just an amendment presented at the Senate, which will still have to go through a detailed parliamentary process and might still get lost along the way. But this is still a case of serious concern for the road transport sector; if the amendment is approved and converted into law this would mean losing fifty million euro a year for the next three years, that is between 2018-2020.
The Senate’s Commission made this choice with the intention of "ensuring adequate resources for the transport of goods in the maritime sector" and specifically to the motorways of the sea "with the aim of increasingly shifting the movement of cargo from roads to sea".
As far as road haulage is concerned, in the approved text the Commission "highlights the need to allocate resources to the modernization and development of the road transport sector, overcoming the current sector fragmentation, as well as adapting soft infrastructures, necessary to support the supply chain, which are still lacking."
Different positions emerged looking at the official statement related to the approval of the Amendment. Senator Esposito, while referring to the decision of the Commission and sharing the purpose of the Amendment, recalls that "road transport continues to show signs of suffering in Italy, due in part to the appearance of a new phenomena: the greater impact e-commerce is having on final deliveries.”
Senator Borioli expresses "strong doubts", because this measure "should be included in a wider project." It is not enough to move funds from road to maritime transport without "developing and strengthening alternative modes of transport that are less polluting than road haulage, even through the creation of the necessary infrastructures." The Under-secretary of State for Transport, Del Basso De Caro, said that "funds for the road transport sector have already been heavily reduced in recent years and therefore the request to move further resources, albeit in favour of maritime transport, is not feasible."
Senator Filippi, on the other hand, supports the investment stating that "this shift involves only a minimum amount of resources and that the overall funds allocated to road transport is still higher compared to 2017" claiming also that "in the past, resources dedicated to this sector were not properly distributed and this compromised the upgrading of the sector as a whole.”
Senator Ranicci shares a similar position, according to which this "is not even a reduction, but a smaller increase, equal to 50 million euro for each of the years 2018-2020: it is however important to reduce road freight incentives in favour of less polluting transport modes such as maritime transport, which has been unfairly penalized in recent years”.
Senator Cioffi shares "the need to encourage freight transport through alternative routes such as rail and water and to reduce road transport". Senator Scibona "confirms the support of its political party to initiatives aimed at reducing road transport in favour of other methods. Transporter’s issues linked to e-commerce business stems from a transformation of purchasing habits, and this cannot be easily solved without measures aimed at boosting local trade".
POSTED WORKERS IN EUROPE. FEDERTRASPORTI SOUNDS THE ALARM
The European agreement on ‘posted workers’ doesn’t take road transport into account. The president of the body that represents road haulage associations brings this serious problem to the fore: "This has been happening for far too long now, yet one thing still amazes me: no one seems to be interested in road haulage" says Claudio Villa, president of the Federtrasporti Group in a press note about the exclusion of road transport from the agreement reached by European Labour Ministers on reforms for posted workers.
"We are talking about an institution - insists the president – created to reduce the cost of labour. But this is benefitting only some companies in some areas and strongly damaging others". Villa is strongly critical of the silence that has accompanied the news of the exclusion of road haulage from the posted workers reform in Italy, as opposed to other countries, such as France, where this is a hot topic and not only among insiders: "France, for example, also through a number of personal initiatives by President Macron, is making great efforts on the subject, while in Italy this issue is nowhere to be found either on political agendas or on the pages of newspapers".
DRIVERS MIGHT BE SPARED FROM PLANNED STATE PENSION AGE RISE
The Government is looking at exempting from the planned retirement age rise to 67 years some categories of workers engaged in particularly strenuous activities. Among these it seems almost certain that we will find truck drivers, along with other categories such as railroad engineers and porters. Truck driving, to be honest, did not get the status of strenuous work necessary to retire before other workers, but could, at least, avoid having to retire later at 67 years of age, as the automatic increase, caused by a lengthening of life expectancy, would have it. In fact, ISTAT has recently stated that the average age in Italy has increased to 82.2 years. This is certainly a great piece of news, the down side of which, though, is an unpleasant delay for those entitled to a pension, as from 2019, the minimum retirement age will be 67 years. Some unions dispute this measure, introduced by the Fornero reform, but the Government seems keen on reducing the impact of the higher retirement age at least for those engaged in strenuous jobs, among which 12 categories have been identified. These include industrial vehicle drivers.