A three-day strike by Spanish truck drivers ahead of Christmas was averted after industry leaders reached an agreement with the government on Friday. But distributors say the deal comes too late for them because they were forced to stockpile supplies, while a union is urging new action after warning that the new conditions for truckers still fall short.
The stoppage had been scheduled to take place between December 20 and 22, and it would have impacted the supply chain during the Christmas shopping rush. But the National Committee for Road Transportation (CNTC) on Friday announced that it was calling off the strike after negotiating improvements with the Transportation Ministry.
Under the deal, drivers will no longer have to load and unload goods from the truck themselves, the cost of shipping goods will have to take into account the changes in fuel prices, and there will be shorter waiting times before drivers are entitled to extra pay.
In a message on Twitter, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez called it “a historic deal that improves conditions for a sector that’s strategic to this country and avoids serious damage to citizens and the economy”
Large distribution companies also welcomed the move but criticized the fact that talks dragged on for over a month. “There’s been an enormous cost to ensure there would be no supply shortages on one of the most important sales weeks of the year, because we’ve had to anticipate orders and double up shifts and routes,” said Ignacio García Magarzo, director general of Asedas, Spain’s largest food distribution association. “A strike that was announced on November 10 should have been negotiated [earlier] to avoid the damage that’s been done.”
There’s been an enormous cost to ensure there would be no supply shortages on one of the most important sales weeks of the year, because we’ve had to anticipate orders and double up shifts and routesIgnacio García Magarzo, director general of Asedas
“In food alone the additional costs are in the range of €250 million,” added José María Bonmatí, director general of the manufacturing and distribution association AECOC, which represents over 30,000 businesses.
And the road and logistics sector of the labor union CC OO said in a statement that “the ministry’s agreement with the road freight transportation lobby is a bailout without guarantees that does not resolve the sector’s problems.”
The union said that many longstanding demands have yet to be addressed, including better oversight of driving and resting times. and urged other unions and employee representatives to “organize the necessary actions to win back dignity for road freight transportation workers, without ruling out a transportation strike.”