Looming Truck Driver Shortage in Europe

So, you may have seen what is happening in the UK with the truck drivers, there ain’t enough of them…

Out of the few jobs that I tried to do in recent years was work for a trucking company. I have seen the treatment of the drivers first hand, got angry and left. I was specifically tasked with recruitment and management of Ukrainian migrant workers, and I am not surprised nobody wants to do it.

In Britain, the situation with truckers became exacerbated because post-Brexit rules do not allow easy recruitment of drivers from the continent. The Covid pandemic also halted the issuing of new licenses. However, my first comment was that we Czechs are also not safe from such a situation because the share of foreign work force is also very high in our country.

I do not have the exact statistics for the Czech Republic but here I read in the Ukrainian online newspaper Strana that in Lithuania, 80% of truckers hail from Ukraine and Belarus. Most of the natives doing this are old guys, who don’t know any better. This is the most unhealthy situation ever if one thinks that it is the truckers that bring necessities such as food and fuel, and the whole system could come crashing down if knocked a little, as happened in the UK.

The root of the problem is that driving a truck is a skill that requires training. That training is time consuming and in some countries very costly. There isn’t much of a return on investment for the drivers. The employers tend to be rather predatory and seek ways to penalize the drivers over, often contrived transgressions, such as they would accuse the drivers of stealing fuel, or causing damage on the cars, although the damage was already there when they boarded the truck.

Similar shit is keeping most of the population from entering the industry. Many of my friends in my village have a license to drive a truck but all of them work in a state company that manages the river. Many of the private businessmen are crooks. Like my former boss, I later found out he was prosecuting for tax fraud scheme with chemicals. This taught me to always get references for an employer before taking a job.

The job is difficult, tying, and you are not always able to take a shower or have hot meal. So what is the solution? In the short term there must be an easing of entry into the business without compromising the quality. Perhaps the government could subsidize the applicants. Reward them for getting the licence. On the part of the employers, better conditions of work, stable pay, stability in general. And in the long term, increased automation of the trucks. I personally do not think the latter will remove the need for a man inside the car. Cargo needs protection.

Ukrainians are Moving to Russia in Droves

Despite incessant propaganda in Ukrainian media saying Russia is shit, many Ukrainians seem to feel differently…

A Ukrainian friend of mine that I used to drink with here in the Czech Republic, who worked in the logging industry, (I live in a village and I used to drink with lumberjacks) is now in Kamchatka doing the same. I remember the dude for refusing to speak to me in Ukrainian. I was about to practice my spoken Ukrainian with him and he told me he does not agree with the politics associated with the Ukrainian language.

640,000 Ukrainians received Russian citizenship last year according to the Ministry of Interior of Russia. 62% of all passports distributed.

Miners can Move to Poland

This story has it all, it confirms number of theses that I make on this blog, and that is…

  1. America cucks and pwns East European economies.
  2. The relationship Eastern Europe has with America is toxic.
  3. Russophobia leads to poverty and degradation.

The other day, the Acting Minister of Energy of Ukraine, Yuri Vitrenko held a meeting discussing the Uranium producing mine and factory Vostochny. The company has long been in trouble because Ukraine decided to switch its nuclear powerplants from Russian made fuel to American made fuel. The company Vostochny produces uranium for Russian TVEL nuclear fuel. The Americans don’t need Ukrainian uranium as they have their own sources. There were plans to create a joint venture with the Russians to make nuclear fuel in Ukraine, which would make uranium from Vostochny relevant. Otherwise, the Ukrainian produced uranium is a bit too expensive compared to other sources. But then Maidan came, a festival of Russophobia that led to a civil war, which the Ukrainian officialdom mendaciously call Russian-Ukrainian war, although there isn’t any official declaration of war from Kiev.

And voila, the Vostochny uranium factory is in financial trouble. The workers are not paid and the minister threatens to close the whole thing down because it is not profitable. As to what will happen with the workers, the minister suggested they should move to Poland, where they will find better work conditions and better pay. And he also mentioned that remittances of migrant workers form the bulk of revenue for Ukraine’s economy. Vitrenko also invoked Adam Smith when he said that should there exist cheaper producers elsewhere in the World, Ukrainian producers should make way for them. Only that way, according to him, will Ukraine become rich. The minister was further asked what will happen if everyone leaves? Vitrenko is optimistic that people will always find work and Ukraine will continue producing stuff. He suggested people work in agriculture.

Funnily, I have now trolled Belorussian opposition with the words: “You will pick potatoes!” and the answer always is some bleating about freedom…

Source

Ukraine Will Again Forego Conducting a Census of the Population

The last census of the population was conducted under the president Kuchma in 2001…

…in contrast to the Russian Federation, which conducts censuses every decade, and where the next one is planned for 2020.

I was watching one of my favourite YouTube channels (if you can follow content in Russian and Ukrainian, please give it a sub) and around the 3:33 mark, a video is played, featuring a newly elected representative, David Arakhamiya, who says this:

Census is, of course, needed but a census is a statistical action, and it would cost 90 million Euros, which is the preliminary estimate. We don’t have the money to conduct this every 5 years or something… We will conduct a census simultaneously with the distribution of new electronic ID cards…

Interesting, I wonder whether this would stop the guessing as to how many people are left in Ukraine. 25 million? 33.5 million?

Putler Expanded Citizenship Offer to All Residents of the Donbass

Russia clearly does not view the part of the Donbass occupied by the Ukrainian armed forces as separate from that held by the separatists. The Donbass has the most pro-Russian population of all Ukraine, and votes for pro-Russian candidates despite the propaganda about Russian aggression…

RFE/RL reports:

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a decree expanding the simplified procedure for obtaining Russian citizenship to include all residents of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The July 17 move comes after Putin, just days after Volodymyr Zelenskiy won Ukraine’s presidential runoff on April 21, issued a decree to simplify the process for Ukrainian citizens in “certain areas” of the eastern Luhansk and Donetsk regions to get Russian citizenship — a reference to areas held by Russia-backed separatists.

Read my earlier articles on this topic (here and here)

Putler Comments on the Desire of Ukraine to give Passports to Russians

Recently, the president elect, Volodymyr Zelensky expressed the desire to grant citizenship to Russians, who suffer under the repression of the Kremlins. The darkest one commented on this…

I translate:

If in Ukraine they will start giving out passports to Russians, and we in Russia will give citizenship and passports to Ukrainians, sooner or later we will inevitably come towards an expected outcome. All will have a single citizenship. We cannot but welcome that.

Featured in Evgeny Mit’s video

Ukrainian Economy in One Picture

Below is a graph based on data from the National Bank of Ukraine. It shows direct investment in lined, and remittances from workers abroad in white. The data for 2018 are for only 9 months.

DweHUqRX0AUVJh-.jpg

This means that the number of people forced to work outside the country grew rapidly. It is highly likely most of Ukraine’s economic growth is due to remittances sent when you consider that the VAT is the major source of revenue for the Ukrainian budget.

A Problem For Czech Companies: The Germans Will Give Jobs To Ukrainians

Below is a translation of an article by Petr Zenker in the Czech business daily, Hospodářské noviny. In November last year, I published similar information from the Polish daily Rzeczpospolita about labour migration further West. 

It will have consequences for machine-building and the car industry.

In recent years, Czech companies found it increasingly harder to recruit new employees. There are fewer unemployed because during a period of economic boom, unemployment dropped to record lows. Companies are now forced to draw worker from their competition or to seek them abroad. But soon, this problem might become even more acute. Germany prepares a breakthrough step, starting next year she will allow people from outside the EU to join her job market.

It will concern mostly Ukrainians, who are a key component of many Czech companies. We can expect that many of them will give preference to a higher salary in Germany over work in the Czech Republic. It will have impact mainly upon our car industry and machine-building thinks Radek Špicar, the vice president of the Union of Industry and Transport. He estimates that: “Especially qualified specialists will go to Germany rather than to Czech Republic.”

The Union of Entrepreneurs in Construction sees this as a serious problem that does not have a solution. Jan Fidler, a shareholder in the company, Hinton says: “The biggest danger will be to our subcontractors, who have a large share of workforce from Ukraine. We are talking about hundreds of smaller firms. But in this way the problem will concern general suppliers as well.”

The new regulations were negotiated upon by the German [ruling] coalition before Christmas, and it is expected the Bundestag will agree to it in the middle of the Year. The Germans have decided to change their attitude because of the same problem that plagues Czech companies: the companies over there (in Germany) suffer from staff shortages, which slows down economic development. Germany currently has one million of free vocations, the Czech Republic has 300 thousand. (translator’s note: relative to population, the Czech Republic clearly has a worse problem)

The key difference in accepting employees from outside the EU will be that the Germans, unlike the Czechs, will not introduce any quotas. That is simply, anyone who meets the skill and language requirements will receive a job in Germany.

The Czech Republic allows for this only in a limited way. From 2016, 20 thousand Ukrainians are allowed to enter the country every year. But the demand from companies far exceeds this capacity. Špicar from the Union of Industry and Transport says: “We are asking the government to increase the workers’ quota to 40 thousand per year.” The doubling of the quota is now being finalised by the government, and should start working from April.

120 thousand Ukrainians work legally in the Czech Republic at the moment. After Slovaks, they are the second most numerous group of foreign workers. Most Ukrainians are active in Poland, where 500 thousand have found their livelihood. The Polish have for a long time been the most open to workers from Ukraine, and do have that many barriers in their employment.

The Ukrainian workers are lured to Poland and the Czech Republic by higher salaries than what they have back home.  The average wage in Ukraine is around 7200 CZK. In the Czech Republic, the Ukrainian workers receive on average slightly more than 25 thousand CZK. Large part of them find work through agencies and receive less money. In Poland, according to the agency Personnel Service, the majority of Ukrainians receive between 15 and 21 thousand CZK. (translator’s note: 1 USD = 22.50 CZK at the time of writing)

Germany’s bold entry into competition over Ukrainian employees will fundamentally change this salary perspective. The average wage in Germany is greater than 2000 EUR, that is 50 thousand CZK. Czech companies will have to raise wages for the Ukrainians to keep them from going after the better German salary.

The Czech Republic and Poland will retain a competitive edge over Germany due to their linguistic closeness to Ukraine. That is a reason, why the opening of the German market does not automatically mean that all the Ukrainians will go there.

“We are not losing people who have already arrived. The problem of Czech Republic is that she isn’t as flexible in comparison to Germany and Poland in managing the influx of workers that the economy lacks. They will rather go to Poland or Germany,” says analyst, Tomáš Ervín Dombrovský from the company LMC.

Poland’s Chances to Recruit Ukrainians are Dropping

Anita Błaszczak in Rzeczpospolita writes…

This is the last bell to struggle over for workers from Ukraine, who are already being recruited by the Germans. They are also being picked off by the Czechs and Slovaks, who are luring them with higher salary and a two year contract.

Already now, the Czechs are taking increasingly more Ukrainian workers from us, and soon the time will come for Germany, where a large part of professionals can leave, warns Marian Przeździecki, director of the Ukrainian branch of the “Work Service” employment agency. He says, despite huge demand from domestic companies, it is increasingly difficult to make work in Poland attractive for Ukrainians.

First, staff shortages are growing in Ukraine, especially in Western regions. Second, this year competition for Ukrainian citizens has significantly increased from the Czechs and Slovaks, who have liberalised entry procedures. This was confirmed by other agencies that specialise in recruiting Ukrainians. Krzysztof Inglot, head of Personnel Service, which already has three companies in Ukraine, admits that this year Czech and Slovakian companies are recruiting on a much larger scale than before.

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60% of Ukrainians think of work abroad; 26% want to work in Poland for several years; 22% want to work in Poland permanently; Germany is the second most popular destination for Ukrainians after; Treatment of Ukrainian with insurance at ZUS has grown from 59.8 thousand in 2015 to 425 .7 thousand in 2018; 3.2 million Ukrainians work abroad.

CZECH OFFENSIVE

Michał Wierzchowski, is director of the employment agency EWL, which this year wants to bring over 15 thousand employees from Ukraine. Recently, the company also opened an office in Prague, Czech Republic. It wants to take advantage of the boom of Ukrainian employees there. [He says:]

“Despite the announcement of liberalisation of procedures for Ukrainians, nothing is happening. We are standing still, while other countries are beginning to open to them.”

In the Czech Republic where salaries are one third higher than in Poland (and in automotive industry even 50%), Ukrainians can now easily obtain a visa for 90 days, and then an employer can employ them on a 24-month work card, which is part of a government programme “Režim Ukrajina” (see here at Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The card pool has been doubled to 20 thousand this year. Next year it should be doubled as well.

Although, Ukrainians have to wait up to a year for such a long term visa (just like it is with work permits in Poland). However, a system of “informal accelerations” can shorten the procedure to 2-3 months. In addition, after one year you can bring your family to the Czech Republic.

Czech Minister of Labor and Social Policy Jaroslava Němcová has visited Ukraine twice this year and during the last September visit announced the introduction of a fast administrative path for employees in selected occupations, including babysitters. Already now, Ukrainians can more easily get the right to a two-year stay in Slovakia, where wages are around 20 percent. higher than in Poland.

Competition from Germany can soon become a greater problem. Since January 2019, the labor market for non-EU labor migrants, including Ukraine, has been to open more widely. From January 2019, the labor market for non-EU labor migrants, including from Ukraine will be been open more widely.

NEEDED STABILISATION

Marian Przeździecki claims that Poland ceased to be the leader of openness to employees from Ukraine. He explains:

“We fell to the last place in the region. In addition, we lag behind competition in terms of pay, and the housing conditions of employees are often worse.” 

According to him, the main problem is in a limited, six months working time in Poland according to the simplified visa procedure for the so called permit. Declarations by the Ministry of the Family Labor and Social Policy that they will longer it to a year in autumn have not been implemented.

Marian Przeździecki says:

“If we do not do it, if we do not introduce facilitations that encourage permanent work and the settlement of workers from Ukraine,, we will soon lose them.”

He points out that the current system of statements supports the inflow of unskilled seasonal workers from the East, and discourages the arrival of specialists in Poland, who care for stable employment and settlement with their families.

Krzysztof Inglot says:

“We should extend the work to a license of up to 18 months and give Ukrainians incentives to work legally and bring families.”

As the head of Work Service in Ukraine says, Ukrainians or Belarusians seeking a long term residence in Poland do not have any preferences…

“They are treated the same as visitors from Bangladesh or Nepal, even though they (the Ukrainians) are culturally close to us and they adapt fast. If they could live in Poland for longer with their families, they would be more motivated to increase their qualifications. They would not change work so often from 1 or 2 zlotys of hourly rate increase, which has become a nightmare for companies, particularly in construction.” 

OPINION

JACEK PIECHOTA, president of the Polish-Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce

Our advantage in competition for employees from Ukraine is geographical and cultural proximity, and the fact that many [Ukrainians] are familiar with living conditions in Poland.Despite this, competition from countries where wages are higher is a real threat. Despite this, competition from countries where wages are higher is a real threat. In addition, our country’s migration policy is not very clear, the waiting time for residence and work permits is not being shortened, and some politicians combine labor migration with the migration threat. An open government declaration is needed that Ukrainians are welcome in Poland. It is also worth showing positive examples of their employment and integration, which we do in the social campaign “Partnership and employment”(„Partnerstwo i zatrudnienie”).

WORK AND SUPPORT THE ECONOMY

Transfers of money from Ukrainians working abroad has risen to $11.5 billion and is expected to increase in 2018 – estimates National Bank of Ukraine. Last year, Ukrainian migrants sent over $9.3 billion back to the country (about 9 percent of the GDP). As is estimated by the Ministry of Social Affairs of Ukraine, 3.2 million citizens of this country work continuously abroad, and another 9 million seasonally. A large part of both groups goes to Poland, where the number of employees from Ukraine is estimated at 1.8-2 million. As the Association of Entrepreneurs and Employers warns, the outflow from the Polish labor market of even some of them (in a moderate variant – 500,000) may lower our GDP by 1.6%, which was 1/3 of its growth in the previous year. For several years, employers’ organizations and economists have appealed for a coherent Polish migration policy. It was not ready in summer and in autumn it was returned for inter-ministerial consultations. The ministry of investment and development explains:

“The migration policy touches upon many topics, and their reconciliation takes time.”

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Earlier this website already wrote about the volumes of Ukrainian labour migration to the EU, about staff shortages in Western Ukraine, and about Ukraine rapidly losing her human capital.