Self-employed truck drivers in Spain associated with the National Platform in Defence of the Transport Sector have decided to call a new indefinite strike from Sunday midnight, that is to say to be effect in the morning of Monday, November 14th, to protest the non-compliance with cost regulations by their customers, the freight management companies. If the industrial action goes ahead, it will be the second strike by Spanish road transport drivers this year, after supermarket shelves around Spain were emptied of some products in March, due to action over fuel prices by the self-employed truckers in the Platform.
Manuel Hernández, president of the platform, has announced this news following a vote carried out this weekend among provincial delegations on recovery of unemploment payments. Last Saturday, the Platform's provincial delegates held a meeting in which they analyzed the current situation of the sector, after measures approved by the Spanish government in consensus with the majority transporters organizations, which make up the National Road Transport Committee (CNTC) . Despite these measure, the Platform continues to denounce the "violation" by the freight firms of the law that prohibits working at a loss in the sector, and accuses the Spanish transport ministry, led by Raquel Sánchez, of disavowing the Civil Guard over the monitoring and reporting of these violations.
Self-employed drivers, at the limit
"The administration must react quickly and face what has to be done," Hernández said in a press conference this Monday, stressing that the self-employed who make up the sector do not currently have the capacity to face recent cost increases of 30%. "We are paying 40% less salary to our drivers, taking out insurance that covers the minimum essential because we can't pay the amounts they demand of us", he denounced. "Between 200 and 250 transport companies are forced to close each month. There are suicides occurring", he says.
For her part, transport minister Raquel Sánchez has launched a message of prudence. "We respect the announced mobilizations, but we call for responsibility. The majority of the transport sector has conveyed to us that it values all the improvements made in recent months very positively, an ambitious package of measures that fulfills its historical claims, as well as the progress that is still being worked on." A notice reminiscent of the protests in March, when the Pedro Sánchez government also accused the Platform of being politicized in the interests of the right and the far right, and underlined the understanding reached with the other associations.
On the other hand, ministerial sources assert that the current economic crisis is the cause of all the disagreements: "Transport charges have increased for all distances, which demonstrates the effectiveness of the measures adopted, such as the 'diesel review clause', and the impact of the measures to remove the truckers from a structural situation where they cannot cover costs is beginning to be reflected, since it is now possible to transfer the cost increases suffered by transporters to the price they are paid. We are working with the sector to raise awareness of the importance of reporting violations, when they occur."
Possible supply chain problems
These protests will be the continuation of those that took place last March. This self-employed transport drivers' platform is opposed by the Spanish Confederation of Goods Transport (CETM), the country's largest group of transport companies, which has asked the Spanish government for the state security forces to act "with the force and firmness necessary" to allow the sector to guarantee supply to the population. Business associations in the agricultural, food retail and restaurant sectors have demanded security and guarantees for the supply of products and raw materials in the face of the new stoppages called by the Platform. They ask that measures by taken to avoid the serious incidents and violent episodes that affected the proper functioning of the supply chain due to the last stoppage of the transport of goods in March this year.