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Spanish truckers threaten three-day strike action amid soaring fuel prices

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Spain's Transport Minister Raquel Sanchez. Photo: Reuters/Javier Barbancho/File Photo

Spain's Transport Minister Raquel Sanchez. Photo: Reuters/Javier Barbancho/File Photo

Spain's Transport Minister Raquel Sanchez. Photo: Reuters/Javier Barbancho/File Photo

Spain's government is prepared to negotiate with truck drivers and believes that a three-day strike called by an industry association in the run-up to Christmas can be averted, two ministers said yesterday.

I am convinced that through dialogue and agreement we will be able to overcome this crisis and avoid the strike,” Transport Minister Raquel Sanchez said at an event where she announced a €400m investment to decarbonise road transport.

That includes subsidies for regional authorities to transform fleets of both passenger and goods vehicles.

While recognising the government was aware of problems faced by the sector, including soaring fuel prices, she said some issues were outside her control.

“Many of their demands go beyond the competence of the ministry, but are instead to do with private relations with companies,” she said.

Spain’s CETM goods transport association, which called the strike, disagreed, however.

Its secretary general told Reuters government action was fundamental and maintained the transport ministry was in a position to help the sector function better through regulation.

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“We’ve not received any contact from the government yet.

"It all stays in nice speeches, but the actions aren’t there – we’ve spent years with these demands,” CETM’s Jose Maria Quijano said.

Mr Quijano called for a law allowing contracts to be revised following fluctuations in fuel costs a raw nerve at a time of skyrocketing energy prices to be made binding to protect truckers, who he said are already contributing €19bn annually in fuel taxes to state coffers.

Minister Sanchez also stressed the need to boost rail transport, which will receive €1.7bn in EU recovery funds.

“We must make it possible to conduct a greater proportion of freight transport, which is currently carried by road, by rail,” she said, something Mr Quijano said the trucking sector would, as advocates for multi-modal transport, be supportive of.

“If rail successfully takes a portion of goods transport, it would only take a small part away from the road hauliers the last mile will always exist. But they should not put all investment into railways and leave nothing for road upkeep,” he added.


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