The truckers’ strike, now in its second week, continues to strain supply chains in various sectors, such as agriculture and distribution. Since last Monday, hundreds of drivers have been blocking the roads of several Spanish provinces to protest against the rise in fuel prices, rampant as a result of the war in Ukraine. Here are the key points of the conflict.
Who has called the strike?
Carriers have faced this strike divided. The call, carried out by the Platform for the Defense of the Road Freight Transport Sector, is not supported by other associations in the sector, represented in the National Road Transport Committee (CNTC). These include the National Federation of Spanish Transport Associations (Fenadismer), the International Road Transport Association (ASTIC) and the Spanish Freight Transport Confederation (CETM), which include the large transport companies. Although until now they have opposed the strike, they are aware of the difficulties that the sector is increasingly facing and patience is about to run out. For this reason, these associations have given the Government an ultimatum: either direct aid to cover the price of diesel for trucks is imminent or they will allow their associates to join the strikes.
What are the requirements of carriers?
The main claim of the organizers is to prohibit the contracting of road freight transport services below operating costs. Carriers have been suffering losses for months due to escalating fuel costs, fueled by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Likewise, they demand that the payment be received in a maximum of 30 days, together with a sanctioning regime for non-compliance. Among other measures, they also ask to limit the intermediation in the transport contract to a single contractor and the prohibition by law of loading and unloading by drivers and freelancers who drive their vehicles.
The pact reached last December – in which the Executive committed to a series of measures, such as stabilizing the price of diesel in transport contracts – has already fallen short, according to professionals in the sector. The large associations of transporters want the Government to replicate the agreement reached last week between the French Executive and the transporters, who will be discounted at gas stations with 15 cents per liter for diesel during the next four months. In addition, this pact contemplates an item of public aid of 400 million euros that will be distributed to each carrier, depending on the vehicles they own and the load capacity of each of them.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
What sectors is unemployment affecting?
The food sector is being the hardest hit. From the dairy industry to the fishing industry, passing through that of beers and mineral water, among others. In many supermarkets, the shelves are more depleted than normal, also because of the war in Ukraine: milk, flour, oil and baking soda are some of the products that consumers have the most trouble finding. In the same way, the markets are suffering from supply problems of fresh products (meat, fish, fruit and vegetables) and the purchase to fill the counter is getting more expensive every day. Losses in the food chain in the first week of transport stoppage have amounted to 600 million, according to a statement sent by the employers of the consumer sector.
How has the government reacted?
The Government, which in recent days has accused the callers of the strike of supporting the game of the extreme right and of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will intervene directly in the conflict. This Monday, the First Vice President and Minister of Economic Affairs, Nadia Calviño, and the Minister of Finance, María Jesús Montero, will lead the negotiations, in a decisive meeting with the CNTC. The committee, in which the platform that has called the strike is not represented, is the only interlocutor that the Executive has recognized as valid since the beginning of the conflict. In principle, the Government plans to approve an aid package to respond to the economic consequences of the crisis in Ukraine, after the European Council this week in Brussels.