Truck drivers from Eastern Europe: Sputnik vaccine and trials cause problems

Business transportation industry

Sputnik vaccine and corona tests drive truck drivers and logistics companies to despair

Tougher travel conditions – Omikron variant abroad

A new virus variant, Omicron, is causing worldwide concern. Countries take different approaches: entry rules are tightened, entry bans from certain countries or air traffic are lifted altogether. Overview of the current situation.

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Many truck drivers from Eastern Europe have been vaccinated with the Sputnik vaccine, which is not recognized in Germany. They need a test certificate to be allowed to unload and load at local warehouses. But this is not only a problem for truckers.

Dhe introduction of the 3G rule at work places the transport industry in Germany with unexpected challenges in warehouses. One reason is drivers from Eastern European countries, who are often used for pick-up or delivery tours in Germany. Many of them were vaccinated with the Sputnik vaccine, which is not recognized in this country.

Therefore, the respective drivers must show a corona test. What is often not a problem for large companies with their on-site testing offerings makes it difficult for smaller companies.

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In the long run, additional vaccines may also make organizing in an industry characterized by medium-sized companies much easier. This is one of the reasons, for example, that logistics group Geis, together with automotive supplier Jopp, has launched its own vaccination campaign at the company’s headquarters in Bad Neustadt in Baden-Württemberg. On the first two days of December, warehouse workers can get the corona vaccine easily and at work.

There is still no single test regulation

About 800,000 large trucks are on German roads every day. In most cases, drivers are employed by freight forwarders, and about a quarter of them come from other European countries. Corporations such as DHL, Dachser or Schenker only work with their own drivers to a small extent and mainly order foreign companies with transport tours.

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Often, trucks from Poland, Hungary or Bulgaria are not subject to any corona regulations in the driver’s cab. They only need to follow the rules and regulations of the corona pandemic when they leave the driver’s cab – be it for refueling, loading or unloading. This is especially true of the occupancy rights of the depots they drive.

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These drivers now need proof of testing on tours if they have not been vaccinated or have recovered from Corona or been vaccinated with an unrecognized vaccine. If they are traveling for several days, they should do it again. It is now unclear who is allowed to perform and prove these tests. “We need a nationwide regulation for this,” said Dirk Engelhardt of the Federal Association for Road Transport, Logistics and Disposal (BGL).

Employers’ certifications pose problems

Carriers can take online courses to train as certified corona testers at, for example, the German Red Cross, and then test and certify their drivers before departure. However, this proof is not accepted by every customer. The situation varies from state to state.

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supply chain issues

Engelhardt demands: “If the entrepreneur has been trained in this field and can prove it with a certificate, the driver’s license test should also be generally recognized.” If an on-site test is not accepted, the driver would have to drive a 40-ton truck to the nearest test center in town, which may not be a sensible route. The labor law should regulate that a certificate of testing by trained employers allows the truck driver to enter the loading ramp.

Difficulties arise in daily delivery. For example, a regional grocery retailer allowed only drivers who were on the road under the 2G rule, i.e. vaccinated or recovered, to the depot. “If the barriers are raised further, the situation will eventually become unmanageable,” warns Engelhardt. “Supply chains are not yet at breaking point,” said an association lobbyist. However, practical solutions are now needed to ensure that the supply of goods at Christmas also works.

Many retailers are cutting back on their staff

Truck drivers report to customer depots with a sign that says “Only vaccinated people come here” – anonymously. If this does not apply to him, the driver can stay in the cab in such cases, drive to the loading area and entrust the loading and unloading work to the customer’s employees.

But this is no longer the norm everywhere: in food logistics, for example, Edeka, Rewe and Co. often letting drivers do the work and removing pallets from the loading area using a hand pallet truck. In this way, they save their labor for this activity.

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In big companies like Dachser, these problems hardly arise. The logistics group from Kempten in the Allgäu says that “everyone without proof can, in most cases, be tested on our premises”. Out of a total of nearly 40,000 shipments, there were only 60 deliveries with difficulties or extra work after the introduction of 3G regulation. Over the past few months, corporations such as Dachser have built their own testing infrastructure at the gates of their logistics facilities.

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