The carriers will go on strike in the midst of fuel escalation. This is how the yellow vests began

  • 53

A new truckers’ strike is summoned. Indefinite, as of March 14, but without a clear union of associations and unions. At the moment, the call is moved by the Platform for the Defense of the Road Goods Sector, urging all relevant ministries to take part in the negotiation. The rise in fuel prices, truck maintenance costs and other historical claims are on the table.

It is estimated that the transport sector produces around 5% of Spanish GDP and employs 1.2 million people. In fact, 95% of the goods that move in our country do so by road and 70% of exports also use this route to leave Spain.

The importance of freight transport is beyond doubt. During the harshest lockdown of 2020, carriers were considered essential personnel and their activity did not stop. However, it was not until a strike threat last Christmas that historic demands for the sector were addressed.

A particularly delicate moment

During the latest negotiations with the Government, the representatives of the sector obtained the commitment to reflect in a Royal decree law (published on March 2 in the BOE) reduce waiting times to one hour or the prohibition of loading and unloading work at destination points, except in exceptional cases, such as vehicle carrier workers, removals, transfer of animals or parcel delivery.

The other great demand was the transport price review clause. With it, the carriers will obligatorily affect the increase in diesel prices in the contracts already signed, from the moment the agreement is reached until the delivery is made effective. Before, this did not happen and, therefore, an increase in the price also meant an increase in costs or, even, working at a loss.

This point is especially important now that gasoline and diesel are reaching historical prices in our country. In fact, in January, the price of diesel for transport reached €1.3876/litre. With the new clause, a contract signed in December 2020 that has been effective in December 2021 will have a fuel price supplement of 30.3%as a result of the latest increases and before making the 2022 prices official.

During the 2021 strike threat, the loss of purchasing power of the carriers and an increase in costs, derived from a rise in fuel prices, which was leaving thousands of families on the edge of the wire, were already reported. , in a sector with a clear role for the self-employed and small businesses.

They are the same arguments that in October 2018 mobilized the yellow vests. On that occasion, a significant rise in fuel prices led to the largest social protest in France since May 1968. The protests ended up being joined by other social groups that they came to claim 25 petitions among which were higher social spending, lower taxes or bank interventions.

And fuel is not the only expense that has made life difficult for carriers. The Platform for the Defense of the Road Goods Sector also demands that contracts in which work is carried out below the operating cost be punished, taking as a reference the Cost Observatory published by the Ministry of Transport, with monthly updates (it is currently updated quarterly and the latest data is from October 2021).

Some of the costs that have increased the most are the wheels and the Ad Blue, the liquid that improves the polluting emissions of diesel engines, which have lived 25% price growth for new tires and 50% in the case of Ad Blue.

In addition, the association also claims safe spaces for carriers to rest in loading and unloading places, another historic claim that was not taken into account in the agreement reached between the representatives and the Government at the end of 2021. 30 days for transportation provision services, with a sanctioning regime for non-compliance, or retirement at 60 years of age for being the profession classified as high risk.

No industry consensus

The call comes after the Council of Ministers approved the Royal Decree-Law on March 1, which includes all the measures agreed upon last Christmas between the transport sector and the Government. Measures that the Platform for the Defense of the Road Goods Sector considers insufficient, since, in addition, it assures that the situation has worsened since then.

How is it possible that gasoline is at its all-time high if oil has not yet reached it?

So, the strike called for Christmas week ended up being called off. The agreement reached in December is sufficient for the National Road Transport Committee, the National Federation of Transport Associations of Spain (Fenadismer), the International Road Transport Association (ASTIC) or the Spanish Confederation of Goods Transport (CETM). Both ASTIC and CETM, at the time of writing this article, have confirmed that they will not be added to the indefinite strike and that they have no statement to make in this regard.

Photo | Paul White/AP

A new truckers’ strike is summoned. Indefinite, as of March 14, but without a clear union of associations and unions.…

A new truckers’ strike is summoned. Indefinite, as of March 14, but without a clear union of associations and unions.…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.