The strike which began on 14 March had a major impact on the food supply chain. / sur

Spain's last striking hauliers call off their protest action, but only "temporarily"

Most of those on strike returned to work after the government agreed to a one-billion-euro assistance package last week, but the association that began the action had said it would continue

CLARA ALBA Madrid

The Platform for the Defence of the Road Transport Sector agreed on Saturday to “suspend temporarily” the protest action it began on 14 March, which led to supply problems in some sectors such as food. The decision was taken at a meeting in San Fernando de Henares, Madrid, which was attended by around 100 small and medium-sized businesses and self-employed hauliers.

However, the Platform’s president, Manuel Hernández, said the protests would start again when the time was considered to be right. He told the assembly that “this is the time to be intelligent and to know how to manage our strength,” pointing out that the support for the strike had been enough to merit further action, which he said is something that will happen. “We have to organise ourselves better in the provinces and get ready so that in the near future we can act again, and with more force this time,” he said.

These protesters lost a great deal of support last week as many of the hauliers returned to work once the government reached an agreement with the National Road Transport Committee about measures to assist the sector. This one-billion-euro package includes a 20 céntimo discount per litre of fuel and direct financial aid for the hauliers totalling 450 million euros. The government also said it would take legal measures to ensure that the sector did not work at a loss, which was what had been happening in the food supply sector.

That was one of the measures had been demanded by the platform that called the strike, and it was when the Minister of Transport, Raquel Sánchez, rejected the call for temporary measures to be put into effect while the new decree is being drawn up, that they decided to continue with the protests. However, the main associations in the sector went straight back to work and the road haulage sector is now practically normal again apart from a very few places such as Bilbao port, where tensions have remained high in the past few days.