Truckers: A Closed Profession In Greece

 

Greece Trucker Strike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The economics of trade has been dependent on the ability to transport the goods from where they were produced to where they could be sold. People have always utilized the latest modes of transportation to accomplish this feat. Therefore, it is no wonder that with the advent of the automobile, trucks began to accommodate the transportation needs of the majority of goods on land. Greece is one of the many countries that utilize the convenience that trucks offer. However, in order to keep the goods moving there needs to be a strong supply of drivers, or truckers.

Trucking has been a closed profession in Greece since 1970. This means that the 33,000 licenses that were in existence then are the only ones that are still in existence today. The passing of reform acts on September 23, 2010 was meant to set in motion the re-opening of the profession to many more Truckers. This would also end the current method of obtaining a trucking license in Greece, which can be accomplished two ways. One is to purchase a license at an exorbitant price, and the other is to inherit it. Now, the government is supposed to start issuing more licenses sometime before the end of 2013 in the hopes that the increased competition will help stabilize transportation costs at a more affordable level.

While these changes have been tried to be pushed through by the Greek government in order to lessen the long and short term financial effects of accepting the bail out from the European Union, there has been little forward movement beyond the signing of the acts. This means that in order to become a trucker in Greece, an individual needs to have the finances to be able to purchase one of the existing 33,000 licenses. Through regular markets it is not unheard of to pay €39,000 to €71,000. However, this also requires knowing someone who is willing to sell. An individual can try to purchase the license on the black market, but the price there has been known to reach €309,000.

Since the profession is still closed, once a trucker has a license and a truck the cost that he or she can charge for his or her services are well beyond what an open market would tolerate. Many businesses and residents of Greece have complained that it is cheaper to have items shipped from foreign countries thousands of kilometers away by foreign truckers, than to pay for shipping the same items from within the country by Greek truckers at a distance of less than 160 kilometers.

It is unclear how much the average truck driver makes in Greece. While the high rates that can be charged would lead people to believe that this would be a very lucrative profession, the initial costs to enter into the profession and then the fees of the union along with other costs quickly eat into the profits. Among those costs would be the expense of fuel.

Most of the trucks on the Greek roads still run on diesel. As of March of 2012 diesel was ranging from €1.75 to €1.85 per liter depending on the area in which it was purchased. Considering the relatively poor fuel economy that the transportation Truck’s engines receive, generous estimate would be that it would take upwards of 45 liters to travel 100 kilometers, and it is easy to see how this profession has such a high overhead. This estimate is based on the fuel economy of newer truck designs. However, diesel prices have increased on average 0.50 in the past four years, making 100 kilometer trip Fuel’s cost rise from 60.75 to 83.25. Add this with the fact that average commuting distance that a trucker will travel in one week is around a couple thousand kilometers, and it becomes understandable why many truckers are wary of new competition driving down the rates that they can charge.

However, for those who enjoy seeing the country there few other options that allow them to combine this enjoyment with work. The two major port cities within Greece are Thessalinoki and Piraeus. Thessalinoki is located on the north-eastern region of the major peninsula, while Piraeus is located in the southern portion near Athens. It is through these two ports that a large majority of goods are imported and exported. While the majority of Greece is a peninsula giving the country a high ratio of coastline to landlocked regions, there are few areas that can support a safe protected harbor needed for strong port city.

One of the oldest European civilizations was birthed in the land of Greece. Since the fall of the Ancient Greeks there have been many others that have laid claim to the land. For this reason the road system in Greece is an interesting amalgamation of ancient verses modern infrastructure. While there have been relatively new highways constructed in the 1990s, many of the others were built back in the early 1960s when traffic demands were vastly different from today. Yet, even these older highways seem marvelous when compared with some of the one lane rural roads, or the dirt cut ways that people have blazed to connect one locale to the other.

Currently the trucking market in Greece is facing uncertainty do to an economic recession that has last more than five years and no clear majority of any political party within the newly elected government. The banks of the European Union that extended loans to help Greece turn its economy around are pressuring the government to open many of the closed professions within its country. Add to this the fact the many businesses are looking for ways to bypass the Greek truckers and utilize foreign truckers instead to save themselves on expenses, and it is clear to see why so many are concerned about whether or not they will be able to recoup the costs of buying into the trucking market.

However, it is clear that without truckers Greece will not be able to revive its failing economy. While the current status of truckers maybe uncertain,the need for them is not.

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