HINTS FOR HAULIERS.
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Considerable Encouragement of the Idea of Forming a Haulage Trade Association.
IT CERTAINLY looks as though, in recommending and supporting the idea of the formation of a Haulage Trade Association, with the principal object of stabilizing and maintainingfair rates for haulage, The Commercial Motor is "giving the public
' what it wants." .
I am writing this' artiele before last week's issue is in the hands of readers, so that the post-card vote for which I asked has not as yet even been considered, let alone acted upon. I have, however, a large number of letters, a few of which are reproduced on another page (738) of this issue. There is also the one which appeared on page 672 of the issue of The Commercial Motor for January 16th. The last-named was most complimentary and encouraging indeed ; curiously enough, too, although there was no possibility of collusion between us—I do not even yet know the name of the writer—yet on page 667 of the same issue I advocate, in my "Hints for Hauliers" article, precisely the course which is, indirectly at least, recommended by that writer, who signs himself "Clearinghouse Director."
Before going ahead with what I have to say, I should like to traverse that letter, and show., if it be not altogether clear, how closely the writer and myself (and, as the letters on page 738 show, many other readers of this journal) are in agreement over this question of the advisability of forming a Haulage Trade Association, as being the best, if not the only, way to combat the many evils from which the trade is suffering to-day.
" — — Think Alike. "
Mr. Clearing-house Director (hereinafter referred to as " C.D.") need envy no one the aptitude for making his meaning clear. He is all right at that. Dealing with the wisdom of exposing the clearinghouse of poor character, he says "I fear no remedy will result from these spasmodic attacks." I agree entirely. Mr. " C.D." wrote; of course before my articles in the issues of January 9th and January 16th had appeared in print, and did not, therefore, realize that I had in view the pursuit of a persistent and permanent campaign against ill-disposed clearinghouses, and other ills of that kind. My present course is, therefore, in itself at once a reply to, and a confirmation of, his own remark. "Mismanaged clearing .houses," he states, "are on the increase." Again I cry agreed.They will continue until hauliers themselves, in concert with the satisfactory cleariughouses, take active steps to discourage them. He then puts, in metaphor, the very arguments I myself use on page 667 of the same issue, concerning the hydra-headed characteristic of the small haulier, considered as a body.
"The only remedy," he says, "with the bad clearing-house is 'boycott.'" And so say I, with emphasis, in the article which appeared in The Commercial Motor for January 9th, when I outlined the methods which would have to be used by the " H.T.A." in its fight against these clearing-houses and against those hauliers who accepted loads at out rates.
In speaking of "hard bargains" I perhaps used too strong a term. What I really meant to point out to the haulier reader was that the clearing-house had competition to face, of more than one kind, and that, if .loads are to be obtained, it is then necessary to quote prices which are the lowest which can be made to pay. Thus, I advocate that uneconomic rates are never admissible. I do think, however, if the road haulage industry is to hold its own, that it will have to put its house in order in more ways than one.
Remember that, in the haulage trade, as in many another, there is a limit beyond which prices may not go, if trade is to be encouraged. It is as important to reduce the mileage charge to as low a figure as possible in the hope of attracting more trade, and thus reducing the overall running expenses, as it is to bring the postage rate for letters down to a penny. Low rates encourage business, and thereby provide the means of rendering those low rates economical. It should be the business of , a properly organized Haulage Trade Association to revise its rates from time to time, in accordance with that well-established and incontrovertible principle. So much for Mr. " C.D." Now for some of my other correspondents. The letter from the E.L.Y. Transport Co. is a page in itself. It says, very emphatically, all that its writer believes needs saying at the moment. It obviously asks for deeds, not words. The other letters have been chosen for reproduction this week because they are representative of the two important branches of the industry with which we are concerned—the haulier's side, and the clearing-house.
Two Sides of the Question.
The haulier, Mr. Chas. Bacon, is well enough known in Leicester and thereabouts for him: to need no introduction from me. His letter is of interest, amongst other things, because lie touches on a paint with which I have not yet dealt in this recent series, in which I have been advocating the formation of the Association. He speaks feelingly about the question of overtime. The general run of tradesman appears to be under the impression that the haulier needs no sleep, or, if not that, then he imagines that it is a flying machine, one capable of immense speeds, to which he is consigning his goods. It is a common experience in the haulage industry for a wagon to be ordered for nine o'clock in the morning, and to be drawing out with its load at two or three in the afternoon, if no later, and this through no fault of the haulier, but because the load was not ready for him when he arrived. There would be but small complaint about this were it not for the case, as ft rule, that the job has been quoted for, and accepted, at mileage rates. Consequently, the haulier, who has some idea of his limitations of speed, feels that if he is to do more than merely turn his money over, he must keep on working as late as he can, in order to get as much of that job done during the day. Now the labourer is worthy of his hire ; and it is equally true that every man, even though he be but a haulier, is entitled to a fair amount of leisure : he also needs a comfortable sleep.
When there is a strong Association in existence which can enforce rates for time and for distance, and which can support any haulier who finds himself treated in the manner indicated, this practice will automatically cease. It persists now for the same reason that undercutting of rates is so rampant, because there are so many hauliers who are out for a job at any price and under any conditions. The badlytreated haulier dare not complain because-there are so many who will take on the job in his stead.
Mr. Donaldson Wright confirms many of the arguments which I have used again and again, on this page, anent the inability of the small haulier to appreciate the importance of knowing his working costs. I thoroughly and emphatically endorse all that this correspondent says about the importance of fair rates, and that reliability and good service are only possible if fair rates are paid. Mr. Wright, like many other writers, some of whose letters, I understanci,' the Editor proposes to publish next week, regards the small haulier, with no responsibilities, as the man who will give the Association most trouble. That is my own belief, as I indicated in the article which appeared in the issue for January 16th.