MADRID – Spain’s government and the country’s main trucking federations reached an agreement Friday on financial help for an industry hurt by high gas prices, but self-employed truckers said they would continue a 12-day strike.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has helped drive gas prices higher in Europe, making it more expensive for truckers to fuel up.
Also Friday, scores of farmers on tractors drove slowly along a main road near the Spanish capital of Madrid to protest the “brutal increase” in fuel prices and low prices they are still getting for farm produce. The Madrid region farmers also complained that the price of fertilizer, much of which in the past they say has come from Ukraine, has climbed around 300%.
After 12 hours of negotiations with truckers that ended after midnight, Spain's Socialist-led government announced it is discounting 0.20 euros per liter of gas (the equivalent of $.83 per gallon) for trucks as part of a package of measures worth more than 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion). A liter of gas for truckers currently costs around 1.80 euros (the equivalent of $7.50 a gallon).
Spanish Transport Minister Raquel Sánchez said the discount would translate into savings of around 700 euros ($771) a month per truck. The government said it would also provide 450 million euros ($495 million) in direct financial aid to road haulage businesses, as well as special credit terms.
Yet the Platform for the Defense of the Road Transport Sector, a group that is not affiliated with Spain's larger national trucking associations or road haulage companies and does not sit at the sector’s negotiating table with the government, called on its members to continue their strike and to attend Friday's the street protest in Madrid.
The group said it would not budge from its demands, which go beyond gas prices. It claims that large distribution companies engage in unfair competition, forcing down the prices for freight, and is seeking better working conditions for truckers, including being allowed to retire at 60.
“After 12 days, we’re not going to throw in the towel. It’s now or never,” the Platform said on its Facebook page.
The truckers' strike has disrupted supply chains and brought scattered shortages of fresh products such as vegetables, milk and fish. Thousands of police have escorted truck convoys and arrested picketers trying to stop working truckers.
Follow all AP stories on the effects of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.