Spanish truck drivers announce three-day strike before Christmas | Economy and business

Spain’s National Road Transport Committee (CNTC) on Wednesday announced a three-day strike, from December 20 to 22, to protest what it calls the government’s failure to address a crisis in the sector. In a press release issued Wednesday evening, the CNTC – which represents freight truck drivers in Spain – accused the administration of “negligence”, arguing that “all reasonable channels of negotiation have been exhausted”. The strike was called following a meeting with Jaime Moreno, general manager of Ground Transportation.

The CNTC said the action was in response to the “sky-high rise” in the cost of diesel, which it described as “the fatal blow to a struggling industry since before the pandemic.” Diesel represents about a third of industry costs.

The CNTC, however, left the door open for further negotiations with the Spanish government, which is a coalition of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and its junior partner Unidas Podemos. “Only a radical and urgent change on the part of the government and the customers [in reference to the companies that hire trucking services] can prevent this conflict, ”the document said.

If the strike is not called off, it could negatively affect the supply chain leading up to Christmas – key days for business, when there are more sales than at any other time of the year. The sector’s last national strike took place in June 2008, at the onset of the financial crisis, and resulted in massive bottlenecks and fuel shortages.

The sudden rise in the cost of diesel this year was the final blow to the industry, which has been in crisis for some time. In the statement, the committee alluded to “several years” of negotiations on thorny issues such as the ban on drivers having to load and unload goods, the Euroviñeta road toll for heavy transport, the creation of Safe rest areas and automatic license renewals that reflect rising fuel costs, a measure the industry says is not being followed.

Even if you work the maximum number of hours allowed by the tachograph, you are not earning enough

José Ramón Jimeno, independent truck driver

According to the press release, these problems are aggravated by “the absolute lack of sensitivity of our customers […] who take advantage of the position of power conferred on them by the regulations in force on contracts for the transport of goods by road. The CNTC added that the “degrading and inhuman treatment” suffered by workers at the hands of customers is also at the root of the shortage of professional truck drivers in the country. In Spain, around 15,000 drivers are needed, and although this deficit is not a major factor, it is one of the ingredients contributing to the global supply chain crisis.

Rising costs, especially fuel prices, are pushing the industry to breaking point, workers say. “You cut expenses one way or another. You push back the revisions, change the wheels… As we say among ourselves, you start to eat away at the truck ”, recently told EL PAÍS José Ramón Jimeno, an independent truck driver who works in the port of Valencia. “Even if you work the maximum number of hours allowed by the tachograph, you are not earning enough. Either we pass on this price increase, or many of us decrease. “

Fears of a strike had been simmering for some time before Wednesday. The general secretary of the National Federation of Transport Associations of Spain (Fenadismer), Juan José Gil, brought up the idea last week in an interview with EL PAÍS, saying that a strike could be called to protest against the increase fuel prices, which have skyrocketed. 30% since the beginning of the year and 40% in the last 12 months. “I don’t know if it will happen at this point, but we are not ruling it out,” he said. Now those fears have come true.

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