Solving the Problems of the Carrier
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Hauliers Expected To Pay for M.O.W.T. Muddle ?
IT was only to be expected that efficiency of operation of road-haulage vehicles under the control of a Government Department would fall considerably below that to which practical commercial men are accustomed. The loss of efficiency has been accepted as being unavoidable, because of the need for building up an organization to reset the emergency.
It hardly seems fair, however, that an operator whose vehicles have been brought under Government control should be deprived of his just and due remuneration on the ground that the vehicle was not efficiently operated. Yet such is reported to me -to have been one reason why the Ministry is disputing an account presented by an operator for the hire of his vehicle and, pending settlement of the dispute, deferring payment.
It was early in the year that a well-known London haulier was required by the Ministry, to dispatch an 8-ton petrolengincd lorry, then engaged on the transport of munitions in and about London, to Liverpool, thence to conveymaterials arriving at the docks. In the opinion of the haulier, the vehicle was better engaged where it was, Never \ theless, the vehicle was dispatched, It was there for one week, and then returned with a load to London. A fortnight later it' was again sent to Liverpool and, this time, stayed for 18 days before being returned to London with a load.
The full ,schedule of journeys is set out in the accompanying Table I. In that same table appear three sets of figures: the rate which the Ministry has offered to the operator, a lair rate assessed on the basis of cost plus reasonable profit, and, in the last column, the amount which would be due to the haulier if his services were paid for under the Ministry's own schedule, RH/D/20.
On Duty for 6 Hours but Only 13 Miles Run It is of interest, as a preliminary, to analyse the schedule of work done. It will be observed that, on the first day in Liverpool, only 13 miles were run, 'although the vehicle and its driver were on duty for six hours. That the vehicle carried no load and did no work was entirely the fault of those into whose charge it was delivered at Liverpool, yet it will be observed that the Ministry considered that the operator is not entitled to any remuneration for those six hours of work and 13 miles of running.
No comment is needed as to the actual operation of the vehicle during the remainder of that week. It will be noted that, on Saturday. February 26, it was loaded to London, which it reached the next day, a Sunday, and was unloaded.
It was not requisitioned again until March 11, when it was loaded in London for Liverpool, again on a Saturday, so that the bulk of the journey and unloading at Liverpool took place on a Sunday.
The vehicle -was in and about Liverpool and district from March 11 to 27, when it was again loaded for London, the goods being delivered on March 28 when, apparently, the contract ended, the vehicle being, presumably, no longer I needed in Liverpool.
During the same period another curious incident arose when, on March 18, under the instructions of the Ministry, the vehicle was sent with a load to Bolton, where it was refused; so that, on that date, 25 miles were run in a period of 5i. hours when again the Ministry, which may reasonably be assumed to be responsible for the unnecessary journey, refused to pay. -:
The contract being over, the Ministry, according to my information, offered payment according to the amounts set down in Table I in the column headed" M.0,W.T. Rate." The operator, checking the proposed payments against What he knew from long and wide experience to be reasonable for the work done, came to the conclusion that the rates
were insufficient. He contacted the appropriate department but could obtain no satisfaction, and it was at this stage that I came into the picture.
As a check on his own figures the operator asked me, as an independent person, to assess fair and reasonable rates for the work•done. I did so in the following manner, making the calculations in the middle of May of this year on the basis of costs as I then knew them to pMvaii.
Figures Which Cannot be Deemed to be Excessive
'For the running costs per mile I took petrol at 3.42d.; lubricants, 0.16d.; tyres, 1.92d.; maintenance, 1.50d.; and depreciation, 2.15c1.; the total . being 9.15d. per mile. doubt if there is anyone with, any accurate knowledge of the cost of operating vehicles of the type under review who will dispute any of those figures for running costs. At least, if there be any criticisni it is more likely to be that the estimate is a modest one rather than excessive. As a matter of fact, I do know that they represent reasonable and fair averages.,
Next I came to the fixed charges per week. I assessed these as follow:—Road Fund tax, XI 8s.; standard rate of wages, £4 85.; driver's insurances—National Health, Unemployment and insurance under the Workmen's Compensation Acts-3s. 10d.; allowance for holidays with pay. 2s, 2d.; vehicle insurance, £1; interest on the capital invested in the vehicle, 15s.; overheads," £4 45. The total is £12 is Here, again, I claim that if I have made any error it is not in favour of the operator, but rather againsfhim, and in that respect I take as. an example the provision of £4 4s. per week as overheads.
The firm of hauliers concerned in this matter are engaged on both long-distance haulage and local collection and delivery work, and it is my experience that the usual overhead expenditure in connection with vehicles engaged on such services is" at the rate of not less than I5s. per ton of pay-load, rising, as in some cases which I have per sonally investigated, to 18s. 6d. per ton of pay-load. Actually, I have assumed the overheads in this case ,to be only 105. 6d. per ton of pay-load.
Reduced to time and mileage costs this is equivalent to slightly more than 5s. per hour and 9.15d per mile. A reasonable allowance for profit on work of this nature is 20 per cent, on cost, which brings my time and mileage rates to 6s, per hour and 11d, per mile Those are the figures which I used in assessing the rates which are shown in the column of Table I under the heading of' Fair Rate."
I am bound, of course,* to be at variance with the Ministry's figures in reference to the first item. The vehicle which is engaged for six hours and runs 13 miles is, in my opinion, due „for payment on the foregoing basis for that period of time and for that mileage, and the amount due is 22 7s. lid All-down the scale I find that the Ministry's schedule of payment is not merely a small amount below mine but, in some cases, as, for example, the instance of the load to Bollington on March 20 and 21, barely half that which I am convinced is a fair and reasonable amount.
In fact, in many cases, and apart from those instances in which the Ministry proposes to pay nothing at all for the work, the amount offered is below the actual cost. This can be shown in reference to the second item—the load to Fariaworth—which occupied 12'hours in the course of which 64 miles were covered.
Ministry's Offer Much Below Actual Cost to Operator The actual cost of operating this vehicle, including, of
course, establishment costs, is, as have shown, 5s. per hour plus 9.15d. per mile. For 12 hours at 5s., £3 is the total and for 64 miles at 9.15d. per mile the amount is nearly £2 9s., so that the total cost is £5 9s. as against the Ministry's offer of RS, and it will be found that this ratio of cost to rate offered applies fairly generally throughout the schedule.
As a matter of interest, and certainly not because I had any doubt whatever concerning my own figures. I calculated rates which ought to have been paid by the Ministry under its own agreed schedules of hire for goods road-motor vehicles on local services, that being the type of work which the vehicle was actually doing in and about Liverpool and district.
The rate, it should be noted, is Ils. 2d. per hour and 7.1d. per mile in excess of 250 per week. The result of these calculations is shown in the final column of the table under the heading " RH/D/20 Rate," and particular interest attaches to these figures inasmuch as the total is within Ils, ld, of that at which I arrived, assessing the rates on the basis of 6s, per hour and Ild, per mile run.
In actual fact, the rate which the Ministry ought to have• paid under its own schedule is Ils. Id. more than thy total, and elien at that, the operator is being underpaid for the three trips between London and Liverpool, for each of which the Ministry offered to pay £16.
According to my calculations the amounts should be: for the trip from Liverpool to London on February 26 and 27, £18 2s. 2d.; from London to Liverpool on March 11 and 12, £19 I Is. 6d.; from Liverpool to London at the conclusion of the contract—March 27 and 28—£18 13s. 10d.
There is thus a deficiency on payments for the three London trips of £8 7s , and if that be added to the RH/D/20 rate total of £198 Ils. 4d., we get £206 18s. 10d. as the amount actually due according to the Ministry's own schedule of rates.
Dispute Still Goes On After Seven Months It should be observed in explanation of this that the trips to London, not being local services, are not, presumably, normally provided for in the RH/D/20 scale. These check figures of mine were submitted to the Ministry in May last in justification of the operator's rightful claim for remuneration, which is considerably in excess of that offered by the Ministry. It is, as I write, November, 'and redress has not been made; I am not sure whether any payment at all has been received by the operator. In the beginning, I gather the Ministry took the line of disputing the accuracy of the various items of cost in my originating data. In particular, it objected to the £4 4s. assessment of overheads, a sum which is unquestionably moderate, and it was quite rightly pointed out by the operator that what with preparing schedules and ,repeatedly providing statements of one kind or another, the Ministry was spending more than £4 4s. per week in disputing this particular account.
But the latest quibble which has been advanced as a reason for not coming to proper terms is that the machine was inefficiently operated at Liverpool. As, presumably, it was under the direction of Ministry officials, it seems to be a poor excuse for avoiding payment.
The moral of this story is fairly easily deduced. It can, I think, be taken for granted that this case, which happens to have been brought directly to my notice, is by no means an isolated one. There must be dozens, possibly hundreds, in most of which, no doubt, operators, rather than continue the seemingly futile struggle, have cut their losses and accepted the mean and paltry remuneration. S.T.R.