RTL Today – Single cash payment: Spain offers fuel subsidies to end truckers’ strike


Spain offered a rebate and one-time cash payment on Friday to end a truckers’ strike over soaring fuel prices that has led to food shortages in the country’s supermarkets.

But the main group of truckers behind the protests dismissed them as insufficient and vowed to maintain their work stoppage.

The government’s offer includes a rebate of 0.20 euros ($0.22) per liter of fuel and a one-off payment of 1,250 euros per truck, Transport Minister Raquel Sanchez told reporters, adding that the total cost for the State would be around one billion euros.

“The vast majority of truckers want and need to work. With this agreement, we are giving them the opportunity to do so,” she said after talks with transport associations that represent most of the sector.

Drivers and truck owners belonging to a group called the Transport Defense Platform have been blocking roads and ports since March 14 to draw attention to rising fuel prices, fueled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The strike has disrupted supply chains in several industries and caused sporadic shortages of perishables such as eggs and dairy in the eurozone’s fourth-largest economy.

The group, which did not participate in talks with the government, quickly rejected the measures.

Sanchez finally agreed to meet with his boss on Friday afternoon, but he stood firm.

“We are going to continue this indefinite strike,” said the platform’s president, Manuel Hernandez.

“If it costs us money to work and nothing is done, we cannot work,” he added.

– ‘Crumbs’ –

Waving Spanish and regional flags, thousands of the group’s supporters marched Friday morning along La Castellana, one of Madrid’s main avenues, blocking traffic.

Like many independent truckers, Jose Luis, who came to the protest from nearby Toledo, said what he was paid to haul loads did not currently cover his costs.

“If I have to put money into my business, my truck stays at home,” he told AFP.

The rebate offered by the government is not enough “because in a few months fuel prices will increase again”, he added.

Hernandez has previously called the government aid “crumbs.”

He said fuel prices would have to drop by more than 0.60 euros per liter to cover truckers’ costs and demanded higher payments for freight transport.

“You can’t pay people who provide a service less than their operating costs, that’s the problem that needs to be limited,” he said in an interview with Spanish public radio.

But the president of the country’s main carrier trade association, Carmelo Gonzalez, said his group was “satisfied” with the measures and he hoped the strike would end now.

“It would be incomprehensible if the blockades continued,” he said.

– Several industries affected –

Several large companies such as the Dutch brewer Heineken and the French giant Danone had to suspend production due to a lack of raw materials.

Taxi drivers, farmers and fishing crews have also demonstrated in recent days against rising fuel prices, sometimes setting up temporary barricades to block traffic.

The government aid will apply to other transport companies, including bus and taxi drivers who will receive smaller one-off payments.

The fuel discount will come into effect on April 1 and last until June 30, and could be extended if necessary, the government said in a statement.

A quarter of the rebate will be covered by energy companies, he added.

Transport associations on Monday rejected aid of 500 million euros proposed by the government of Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez.

The government has mobilized thousands of police to help keep traffic flowing by escorting truckers who are not taking part in the strike.


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