Fuel prices in Spain are at a record high and hauliers are suffering the consequences. On Wednesday 15 June, petrol was on sale at 2.14 euros a litre and diesel 2.05 euros, so the discount given by the government is not having the hoped-for effect in keeping costs down, especially for this sector which took protest action back in March and paralysed the distribution of food products in some parts of the country.
The president of the Platform in Defence of Transport, Manuel Hernández, who led the strikes three months ago, says if the government doesn’t do something the sector will have to resume the strikes that were called off on 2 April. He has given the government until 30 June to fulfil its promises, including a law prohibiting the contracting out of transport services at a loss, otherwise the Platform will start an indefinite strike in July.
The high price of fuel “is accentuating the losses” of the sector, says Hernández, and unless the law to guarantee that the price of transport covers running costs is enforced, “we will be ruined”.
The hauliers strike began with occasional stoppages but ended by bringing a large part of the country to a halt. It lasted for more than three weeks but lost support after the Ministry of Transport reached an agreement with the National Road Transport Committee including a discount of 20 céntimos per litre of fuel and 450 million euros of direct financial assistance for the sector.
It was one of the worst strikes ever in the hauliers sector, causing losses of nearly one billion euros in Andalucía alone. At Bilbao port, where the strikes caused the most problems in freight transport, container companies urged self-employed drivers to return back to work as soon as their demands, such as 1,250 euros per lorry to compensate for fuel costs, had been met.
At that time, Manuel Hernández kept repeating day after day, that it was cheaper for the lorry drivers to stay at home than to go to work.