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Re: Re: A job's worth?

Ah! How do you know that there is a greater market demand for software professionals than for engineering technicians pray?

Re: A job's worth? How about Self Respect!

Grant,

Self Respect

You are so right, but what else can we expect from the Bruxelles Broadcasting Corporation! In fact, the real economics of road haulage are much worse than anyone would believe, but you have to be a practising Operator to really understand this. --- I am of the opinion that current society's legion of 'armchair critics' does little to help, 'having your say', as they say, (which is intentionally fostered by most Politicians and Bureaucrats in order to de-fuse the myriad frustrations which they have caused, and we have to live with) creates endless tensions and divisiveness in the general public. We only have so much capacity for 'worrying', they use it up, and push the real agendas through whilst our concerns are looking the other way.

However, to the point of both of your posts. In 2005 a very experienced Road Haulage consultant was contracted to get a local, long distance transport company out of the 'mire' here in Devon. As he was accommodated at my local Country Inn for 12 months, we spent much time discussing the problems and their economic consequences. At the time, I was involved in some private research aimed at reducing the fuel consumption of the variable load 'diesel cycle', so we had plenty in common. He was not an engineer, but he had a solid grasp of the practical operational difficulties of a transport fleet. (He learned the trade with the old BRS and was for some time their personnel manager). I learned the following informed factors from him:-

1, Professional truck drivers tend to be 'loners', immensely proud of their skills, get very upset if they damage their 'rig', get very upset if they miss their time delivery slot, and generally feel that they earn the right to be thought of as 'Kings of the Road'. For the majority it is much more than a Job, it is a Vocation. They consider themselves as Specialists, and they are right.

2, Their work is often onerous and dangerous. Their hours are anti-social, and many suffer marital and family problems as a consequence. For the responsibility they carry, they are very badly paid.

3, The average wage for professional drivers in 2006 ranged between £9/12 per hour. At the standard week of 40 hours, this equates to £18/25,000 per annum. Yes, some earn more, but only by the sacrifice of overtime and night shift working (within the constraints of the 'spy in the cab'/tachograph). So pre-tax wages were between £360 and £480 per week: contrast this with the current UK average pre-tax wage, which for the full time adult worker is £457 for men, and £394 for women. --- JamesV, where are your 'rich' lay a'bed drivers? I do believe in taking the the part of 'devil's advocate' occasionally, but your suggestions were, frankly, waspish, and ill-informed. Mayhap you are an 'agent provocateur' for EUpile interests? Or do you let the establishment media abrogate your opinion making?

4, The industry is not unduly concerned with fuel price competition. It is, justifiably, concerned with Tax inequality, the major component. One nightmare for Operators and Drivers alike, is the encroaching competition from the influx of untrained unskilled drivers from the EU. They will, and do, work for lower wages and will accept sub-standard treatment and conditions. As a consequence, major retail chains are climbing on the bandwagon and effectively blackmailing Operators by moving contracts to people with lower overheads or forcing the Haulage business into a financial 'straight-jacket'. --- Now these imported drivers are spreading some havoc across the country, there are increasing numbers of accidents injuries and fatalities, and most go unreported by the media. Very few can even read the road signs, and at accident scenes the police have to bring in translators, if you all believe that I exaggerate then, talk to the police, talk to the Operators. (And JamesV, it takes around 5 years to train a top-class HGV driver, not a 'piddling' 6 months).

The other nightmare concerns the, oh so benevolent, EU liberalisation policies. In May, the EU parliament passed a decision! --- The FTA report that 2007 statistics from the Department of Transport show that:- “UK hauliers now account for just 19% of international road haulage traffic between Britain and Continental Europe,” ------ “Almost all of the growth seen in foreign traffic has been by hauliers based in the EU accession states which have come into the EU since 2004. These countries currently account for 23 per cent of all cross-Channel road haulage, up from 18 per cent in 2006 and three per cent in 2003 before these states joined the EU. Polish and Hungarian vehicle numbers are up fourfold in four years. Czech and Slovak vehicles are up threefold,” ----- Simon Chapman, FTA’s Chief Economist said, “One in eight of the heaviest vehicles on Britain’s road network is now a foreign vehicle. Whilst in Britain, these vehicles are able to take advantage of the competitive edge that low taxed foreign diesel purchased in Luxembourg and France is able to give them when competing for work with UK-based hauliers. This fierce competition, which is exacerbated in the case of East European hauliers by lower wage costs, means UK hauliers are being undercut by rates they cannot touch. On average foreign haulier costs are eight per cent below those of UK carriers, in an industry where margins are wafer thin – at two to three per cent.” ----- “The decision by the European Parliament this week to allow even greater access of foreign trucks to the UK domestic road haulage market from January 2009 means the high water mark of this tide of foreign competition is a long way off. The Chancellor needs to take decisive action to alleviate the competitive pressure that UK hauliers are under, by reducing diesel duty by 25 pence per litre down to the EU average.” ----- In his 2008 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government had abandoned plans to charge foreign vehicles for their use of UK roads through a time-based UK vignette.

For more information on this 'carve up', by the EU and our, oh so willing bureaucrats, visit this site:- http://www.easier.com/view/Trucks/Industry_News/article-180268.html

5, Rising fuel prices have been rough on the industry, now it is a hammer blow. 'Horrorbin' and the BBC are flagrant propaganda merchants, of course, they would call it the English art of Dissembling. A reasonably intelligent child of 10/12, if allowed a reasonable education could 'suss' what they are about. It goes like this: a short time back, the road freight drivers made public the fact that they were considering taking all their holidays at the same, effectively thereby bringing some of the country to a standstill; a quite legal protest manoeuvre over the fuel price hike. Big Brother, via the media feeds the lie that they are 'fat cats' earning £40,000 a year, and are doing this to 'feather their own nests'. (Straight away, the majority of the public earning less than £20,000 a year think 'greedy'). So, pre-emptive pre-conditioning manoeuvre in place! Set public opinion 'agin' them before they start. --- As I said earlier, the current western disease of 'Having Your Say', works!

In fact, rising fuel prices were seriously hurting the industry in 2004, my transport Consultant friend, was specifically brought in, with a new Cost Accountant to streamline the operation back into some semblance of viability. The company was fielding around 40 30 to 40 tonners. I was informed that fleets of this size make up over 60% of the UK based industry. The fuel price hike, regardless of whether, or not, it can be passed on to the customer will create unemployment for some UK drivers, they will have to 'tighten their belts', for most drivers have some distance to travel to and from the Operator's base depot, and they cannot pass this on. (To keep the better class of experienced drivers, many firms help them, 'privately', usually out of the MD's pocket).--- So, drivers are, justifiably, p****d off, drivers Will lose jobs, drivers Will be worse off, because, Operators Will lose contracts, Operators Will sell up and get out, Operators Will go into liquidation.

The only beneficiaries of higher fuel prices, Mr Harrabin and JamesV, are, self-appointed pontificating 'know it alls', typical opinionated armchair critics, or 'agent provocateurs'. (And this, in my opinion, sums up 99% of 'blogs' and the 'blogosphere'). I do understand JohnB's antipathy.

Regards to All at Numberwatch,

David T

Re: Re: A job's worth? How about Self Respect!

David T,

Self respect is good though I think that applies to all.

Good points about the haulage industry.

Independent truckers, with their pride-and-joy rigs, take on huge financial commitment to turn a crust. It would frighten me silly.

Who knows why people do the work they do by choice?

Trucks are the backbone of the economy and until very recently there was, maybe still is, a shortage of Class 1 HGV drivers. Not enough to force the pay rate up by much though.


Grant

Re: A job's worth?

Ah! How do you know that there is a greater market demand for software professionals than for engineering technicians pray?
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I don't. I'm assuming your example was hypothetical, and it is demand relative to supply, not merely demand. But safe to say if there are 300,000 software technicians in employment and 30,000 engineering technicians in employment, then there is greater demand for the services of the software technician

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JamesV, where are your 'rich' lay a'bed drivers? I do believe in taking the the part of 'devil's advocate' occasionally, but your suggestions were, frankly, waspish, and ill-informed. Mayhap you are an 'agent provocateur' for EUpile interests?
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Eh? I was talking about Shell drivers. £39,000 a year is £750 a week, well above average, and going on your figures, well above what most ordinary HGV drivers can expect to make.


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The industry is not unduly concerned with fuel price competition. It is, justifiably, concerned with Tax inequality, the major component.

...

Whilst in Britain, these vehicles are able to take advantage of the competitive edge that low taxed foreign diesel purchased in Luxembourg and France is able to give them when competing for work with UK-based hauliers.
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What tax inequality? British-based drivers are as entitled to take their rigs to France or Luxembourg to fill up as French, Luxembourgois, Romanian, or Slovakian drivers.

Anyway, the tax inequality argument is a complete myth. The current diesel price in Luxembourg is €1.26, it's £1.32 in Dover (or €1.65 for an easier comparison). The difference in cost on an 800 litre fill-up is therefore €312. Quite a lot until you take into consideration the 880km return journey from Calais to Luxembourg - 11 hours driving under ideal conditions (let's call that conservatively €250) and 176 litres of fuel at, say, 20L/100km, costing €221. Then the tunnel, at a cost of €696 net.

How much fuel can you stick in one lorry? It would have to be many tons to make it worthwhile driving to Luxembourg just to buy fuel!

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...encroaching competition from the influx of untrained unskilled drivers from the EU.
=========

Yes, that's the usual complaint whenever a foreigner comes along and proves to be more competitive than you. Oh, they're not trained, they're not skilled. Well, I know what it's like to be drummed out of the translation industry by untrained, unskilled and frankly incompetent translators, mostly based in India and China, who took the bottom of the barrel of that market and kept digging. It's the same complaint most western translators have. These people can't produce quality work because most of them are not native speakers of their target language. But so what? If the client is happy with their work - and they are - then that's just tough on the rest of us and instead of whinging, we should all go and do something else.

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Very few can even read the road signs
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This is just scurrilous nonsense. Road signs were harmonised across Europe by the Vienna convention some 50 years ago. As for those few signs with real words on them, how do you think British drivers cope with road signs in Lithuania? Or even France for that matter?

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at accident scenes the police have to bring in translators,
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That's "interpreters". Translators work with the written word.

I'd rather they interviewed drivers with the assistance of an interpreter, and I hope such courtesy would be extended to me if I were involved in an accident while driving in a country where I can't communicate with the authorities in the languages I do speak.

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it takes around 5 years to train a top-class HGV driver, not a 'piddling' 6 months
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Well I never. I had no idea that HGV drivers had to complete their A levels then spend 5 years full time doing expensive courses before being able to earn a crust. Or is much of that 5 years training "on the job", as is much of everyone else's professional training?

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UK hauliers now account for just 19% of international road haulage traffic between Britain and Continental Europe,”
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As the UK population counts for much less than 19% of the population of Europe it would seem we have more than our fair share. Are you assuming that UK hauliers should account for 50% of cross-channel trade? If so, why?

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The decision by the European Parliament this week to allow even greater access of foreign trucks to the UK domestic road haulage market from January 2009 means the high water mark of this tide of foreign competition is a long way off.
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And what is wrong with competition? It's good for the consumer. If I have a problem with the EU it's that it is not making things competitive enough quickly enough. Increased trade means you might lose out on one thing but gain on another. For example, I think the UK should join the Euro and insist on open competition in financial services in return for doing so. The UK-based banks would wipe the floor with the foreign competition in terms of personal financial services, and give those continental types something to complain about Britons stealing their jobs and livelihoods, etc.

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In his 2008 Budget, the Chancellor announced that the Government had abandoned plans to charge foreign vehicles for their use of UK roads through a time-based UK vignette.
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Well, the tax would have to apply to all EU-registered vehicles or none. Possibly to all or none from further afield under the Vienna convention commitments (you see, the EU is not the only borg we give up sovereignty to). I would favour the abolition of vignette systems across Europe rather than introduction of them in new places. Some summers I can hardly see through my windscreen for the stickers from Switzerland, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, then I need to remember to buy the virtual vignette for Hungary, have small change when driving through Italy, etc.

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To keep the better class of experienced drivers, many firms help them, 'privately', usually out of the MD's pocket
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So tax evasion is a good thing?

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The only beneficiaries of higher fuel prices, Mr Harrabin and JamesV, are, self-appointed pontificating 'know it alls', typical opinionated armchair critics, or 'agent provocateurs'.
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The only beneficiaries of higher fuel prices are those who have shorted fuel or have some to sell. That said, one can only hope that high prices now will reduce demand to a realistic level (yes, of course this is going to affect everyone's standard of living, but there are 20,000 more people on the planet than there were when I started typing this, and if you don't think that unsustainable population growth will hit our standard of living you're mad), promote higher production in the future, and bring oil alternatives closer to economic viability.

There is plenty of oil out there - bitter crude in Venezuela, shale in Canada, but you can't make fuel out of it at $40 a barrel. At $140 a barrel, it might just make sense to build a couple of refineries that can process it. If you are prepared to take a punt on oil staying that high.

Re: Re: A job's worth?

So - you equate the size of a job sector to strength of demand and hence payscale value? I think there is a considerable flaw in your logic there! Can you conceive of a much bigger employment sector than IT that nevertheless commands much lower pay norms - think carefully now.

Re: A job's worth?

Of course the number of people providing labour of type X has a pretty fundamendal relationship to the demand for labour of type X! It won't be a perfect relationship because there are many factors which distort markets (some of them act in the common good and some don't), but deep down there are more hauliers than lecturers because we need more hauliers than lecturers and a reasonably flexible labour market allows us to have a number of people working as hauliers which approximates to the actual demand for their services (the same does not apply to the inflexible academic labour market).

Why are you determined to talk about demand only all the time? So what if there's some occupation that earns half what a software engineer earns but employs twice as many people? If it's an easy job which almost anyone could do, it isn't going to pay very much. Ever. Being a software engineer, or almost anything requiring training and specialisation, will almost always be better paid than cleaning or burger flipping, simply because supply of people capable of doing the job is more likely to be restricted _relative to the demand for that particular type of work_.

Of course different jobs get paid different amounts for a whole host of reasons, but underlying the legislation, unions, personal ability at negotiating pay rises, personal productivity, ability of the employer to determine if you'll be any good at the job, whether you're prepared to sleep with the boss if that's what the boss is in to, and whether or not the MD likes you, is the simple fact that most people want to earn as much money as possible, meaning that they will be attracted to high paying jobs. Those jobs can only continue to pay well until five suitably qualified and capable candidates apply for every available job, at which point it becomes a buyer's market and the company will simply hire the fellow with the most modest wage demands.

So, professionals can expect a certain amount of volatility in their income as market conditions change. This has always been the case and always will be. If you don't allow the market to tell people what jobs they should be doing, using the price paid for their labour as the primary indicator, then how are you going to decide what needs to be done? Have the state plan things? Have some board setting salaries for all occupations and let people do what they want to do and follow their dreams? You would have towns with 500 microbreweries and no bottles. 1000 restaurants and no abbatoirs. 250 hotels and no-one to clean the rooms. 500 novelists and no paper. Etc.

I don't know why this is so difficult to comprehend.

Re: Re: A job's worth?

Actually it was you who wanted to talk about supply because you accused me of not having considered it in expressing my opinion on the law of supply and demand!

Having said that labour is a product like any other, (including cofee beans), with which I strongly disagree, and asserted that pay levels are controlled by demand with which I also disagree, you now go on to contradict yourself by asserting that 'anything requiring training and specialisation, will almost always be better paid than cleaning or burger flipping' due to restricted labour supply relative to demand; wheras previously you argued that salaries were 'dependent on the dynamics of supply and demand...rather than romantic notions of how responsible, productive, amount of training needed, prestigious'.....etc.

Well which is it? My opinion is that as a group, software professionals and engineering technicians have a very similar level of training and specialisation; about equal levels of demand, (not withstanding the different size of their sectors), (infact there is rather a greater shortage of the supply of eng techs), but very different pay levels because of their prestige.
And it is their prestige which is set by cultural attitudes ie society. It does not matter how many or few of them apply for each vacancy, in their case the result is the same!

As for deciding what has to be done, as a nation we have decided culturally that we do not need manufacturing and engineering, which is a condition which might not pertain in other countries.
This is why I am sceptical about theories of the market place as a mechanism alone and the law of supply and demand.

Re: A job's worth?

Orde wrote:

...you now go on to contradict yourself by asserting that 'anything requiring training and specialisation, will almost always be better paid than cleaning or burger flipping' due to restricted labour supply relative to demand; wheras previously you argued that salaries were 'dependent on the dynamics of supply and demand...
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Er, how is that contradicting myself? It looks remarkably like two different ways of saying almost exactly the same thing to me.

Supply of labour and demand for labour both greatly influence the price of labour, with the already-mentioned caveat that the labour market is not entirely free. In that sense, labour of any particular type is a commodity just like any other. The fact that some labour is good, some bad and some indifferent is irrelevant. Some coffee is bad, some good and some indifferent as well. You the consumer want the best quality coffee at the lowest possible price. The same is true of the consumer of labour (the employer), while the provider (coffee grower, labourer), wants the highest possible price for their product irrespective of quality (about which some suppliers care and others do not).

Professionals are ultimately worth what they would cost to replace. If my boss could get someone to do my job as well as I do it for less than I charge, I won't be getting a pay rise this year. That not being the case would put me in a good position to get a pay rise. Prestige of the job itself has nothing to do with it (though people are attracted to prestigious jobs and may well be prepared to put up with less money in a prestigious job than a non prestigious job).

Having a flexible labour market means being prepared to do different things. I'm in my early thirties and already on my third career. I've no idea how long I'll stay doing this. Probably until someone comes up with a more lucrative offer in one of the other things I can do. Italy is a perfect example of an inflexible labour market. People go through school, go to college and do Laurea X, and then feel a sense of entitlement to live in Town Y for the rest of their life, doing Laurea-X-job for the rest of their life with the same employer, and get 10% more a year for doing the same job in the same way, until they retire. There may be some great social justice and community stability or whatnot as a result of this, but it results in lots of people being paid lots of money to do entirely reudndant work in an outdated and inefficient way, to everyone's disbenefit.

The market is a wonderful thing (if we always bear in mind that markets exist to serve people, not the other way around). It nudges production in the direction of what is wanted, and nudges demand in the direction of what is available. There is no reason to think that it works any differently for deciding what jobs people should do - the market nudges people towards the jobs that need doing and away from the jobs that are already oversubscribed. Of course, there is a limited extent to which it can generate new people capable of doing work for which there is high demand, hence my Chelsea example. The lure of £50,000 a week is considerable, but I will never, ever, play for Chelsea because I'm not up to it!

Re: Re: A job's worth?

I think your starting to ramble rather. Like you I'm a life long adherent to the free market (at least in most spheres of work), I only wish to point out that too many people get carried away with the idea that it is a logical (if imperfect mechanism), when it is much more influenced by cultural prejudices (as per my example), than analysts will admit.NJEC

Re: A job's worth?

Quite. I'm rambling, because it sometimes seems that I need to repeat myself.

Here's an example of tiresome rambling repetition - could you point out where the contradiction is in what you said was a contradiction? I can't see it, and I'd love to learn where it is.

Re: Re: A job's worth?

Several posts back you quoted:-
Orde wrote:

...you now go on to contradict yourself by asserting that 'anything requiring training and specialisation, will almost always be better paid than cleaning or burger flipping' due to restricted labour supply relative to demand; wheras previously you argued that salaries were 'dependent on the dynamics of supply and demand...

which was only half the argument. No wonder you couldn't see the contradiction!

What I said in context was:-

...you now go on to contradict yourself by asserting that 'anything requiring training and specialisation, will almost always be better paid than cleaning or burger flipping' due to restricted labour supply relative to demand; wheras previously you argued that salaries were 'dependent on the dynamics of supply and demand...rather than romantic notions of how responsible, productive, amount of training needed, prestigious'.....etc.
Well which is it?...

It's all very well waspishly patronizing other people but you arn't as clever as you think you are.

Re: A job's worth?

OK, I can see the cause for confusion, so for clarification -

The amount of training required for a particular job will to some extent determine the supply of people capable of doing the job. Thus, longer training will in general put upward pressure on salaries by decreasing supply of qualified labour, and a further effect (that of not wanting to train for years when you could start earning similar money immediately) may further decrease supply of qualified labour. What I objected to was the _romantic notion_ that long training per se should be rewarded with a higher salary, an argument which is frequently deployed by public sector professional unions in the UK and others who wish to make an emotional, as opposed to economic argument that some profession or other (typically healthcare professionals, teachers, and others with a high public profile in the public sector) should be paid more.

Notwithstanding the effect of longer training on supply of labour to do these jobs (and hence on salaries), people will leave to do something else if the pay is not good enough, or on the other hand, if there are too many qualified teachers chasing not enough jobs, some of them will indeed be prepared to work for less. The fact that they've undergone long training is therefore of limited relevance to the salary they can expect if there are, despite the long training, a lot of them around and not enough work for them to do. Something along these lines works in my line of work, where a PhD, one of the longest and toughest trainings you can imagine doing, is more or less a minimum requirement. 30 years ago, this would have guaranteed you a very high starting salary in industry because it took lots of money to tempt PhDs out of the academic sector (which was also better paid, relatively, at the time). Now a lot more people are taking PhDs than ever before, far more than there are academic jobs available (which was not the case 30 years ago) and as a result professional salaries in this industry are not as exceptional as they once were.

Look at this from the employer's point of view - after all it is ultimately the employer who decides what to pay when buying someone's time and effort. You have three equally qualified candidates and ask them each what their salary expectations are. Who do you pick?

Re: Re: A job's worth?

Unless there are some other criteria to qualify the nature of 'qualification', I would pick the middle salary expectation provided it was within budget.

The higher claim may be too full of himself/herself and likely to flit away in seek of further income.

The lower may be lacking self confidence and possibly real qualifications and experience.

The middle ask may represent the best balance.

Of course if the difference was £50 on a £40k salary all considered arguments are off ...

The reality is that people pick those they feel most comfortable with or most swayed by. Totally successful selection probably occurs mostly by chance or subsequently forged working synergy.



Grant