MADRID – Transport companies in Spain vote for a new national strike for an indefinite period. The strike will start next Sunday, November 13. The strike in March was also declared indefinite, however, ended up lasting only two weeks.
The new strike begins on Sunday at midnight. This is to protest against shippers’ non-compliance with the cost law, which prohibits working at a loss. This was announced shortly after noon by Manuel Hernández, the head of the National Platform for the defence of the transport sector, during a press conference in Getafe (Madrid). In terms of likely support for the strike, 86% of carriers who took part in the vote said they wanted to resume operations.
Analysis of the current situation in the sector
Last Saturday, provincial deputies held a meeting to analyse the current situation in the sector. This was in response to the measures adopted by the government in consensus with the majority of carriers’ organisations, which together form the National Committee for Road Transport (CNTC).
These measures include the new law to prevent carriers from operating at a loss or a new package of €450 million direct aid, in addition to those already approved in 2021 and April 2022. Below is the discount of 20 cents per litre on fuel prices, the ban on drivers loading and unloading; the limitation to one hour of waiting time in the loading and unloading areas, and the reinforcement of transport control or assistance with leaving the profession.
What’s it all about?
During the national strike in March, the trade associations in agriculture, transport and distribution estimated the losses at €600 million. In addition, 100,000 jobs were at stake. Temporary shortages in supermarkets developed in various parts of Spain and farmers had to destroy perishable products because they could not be sold in time. Despite this, the government at the time made an effort to create the impression that only a few self-employed truck drivers were following the strike.
Garamendi, the chairman of the CEOE, said in the spring that “we must not let the country stand still”. Some car factories stopped production and major problems arose in the fresh produce sector.
Government asks carriers for “responsibility”
Transport Minister Raquel Sánchez expressed “concern” on Monday about the possibility of another transport strike and asked carriers for “responsibility”. The ministry argues that “an ambitious package of measures” is ready, including new legislation, which started in the summer. The ministry says the current situation is much more “balanced” than it was in the spring and encourages drivers to report violations of the new rules to inspectors. The government is not very clear about what the carriers want this time.
Non-compliance with the new rules
Carriers said last week that the government and its inspectors were not doing enough to implement the new rules. They denounced the treatment of drivers who tried to protest but were subsequently banned by the companies they worked for. Finally, they warned of a greater danger to all road users if the new maximum weight for trucks is approved.