The transport sector almost came to a halt in March. / I Perez

Will there be another strike by hauliers in Spain?

The group that organised the protests back in March is threatening to take action because it feels the government is not doing enough to help

ÁNGEL DE LOS RÍOS Malaga

Fuel prices are at a record high and hauliers are suffering the consequences. The average price of petrol rose to 2.13 euros per litre this weekend and diesel to 2.10, so the discount of 20 céntimos per litre applied by the government is rapidly disappearing.

Manuel Hernández, the president of the Platform in Defence of Transport and leader of the strikes which took place in March, said last week that if the situation doesn’t improve the sector will be obliged to go on strike again, and if the government does not fulfil the promises it made at that time, the protests would be indefinite.

On Saturday, the government approved a new anti-crisis plan which allows businesses in the transport sector to delay making their Social Security payments and the discount of 20 céntimos per litre of fuel will continue. However, Hernández said the solution does not lie in subsidies but in fundamental legislative change.

Divided options

On Sunday, the Platform consulted its provincial delegations about whether to go back on strike from 4 July. Self-employed lorry drivers and owners of small transport companies were divided, so there was no definitive answer. They appear to want to wait for the government reaction to their demands.

Some have said they received a new proposal from the Ministry of Transport at the last moment, so they need to study it before making a decision. Also, in negotiations during the strike in March, the Ministry committed itself to bringing in regulations before 30 July so the sector did not operate at a loss, so there is still a month to go.

In the meantime, the National Road Transport Committee – the biggest representative of the sector - wrote to the Minister last week asking for extra help for hauliers, such as increasing the fuel discount to 40 céntimos a litre or extending direct financial assistance. For now, they are not considering strike action because the agri-food sector has warned that it would be “intolerable”.

In a statement last week organisations and businesses in the agri-food sector said they could not support another strike by the transport sector. “We are extremely concerned about the serious consequences a strike would have on companies and consumers,” it said. Above all, they are worried about the fruit harvest, as a large part of the production is sold abroad and a strike by hauliers would severely damage Spain’s reputation and export destinations would be lost.