Spain’s National Road Transport Committee (CNTC) on Friday called off the strike that lorry drivers were preparing to carry out just days before Christmas after reaching a last-minute agreement on improvements for the sector with Spain’s Ministry of Transport.
The move should mean that online shopping orders that would have been unable to be carried out in time before Christmas can now theoretically be delivered, although the holdups may have already caused many shoppers in Spain to look for other options.
The Spanish government has described the agreement as “historic”, as Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and Transport Minister Raquel Sánchez referred to the improvements to lorry drivers’ work conditions as “essential” and “strategic” for the sector.
Among the main agreed measures are the ban on drivers carrying out loading and unloading responsibilities (except for certain exceptions), halving logistical waiting times for drivers, the requirement to review extra transport costs brought on rising petrol prices, no new tolls for heavy transport vehicles and safe parking for trucks.
The Spanish government has committed to these changes coming into force within the next 60 days.
There have been concerns that the lorry driver shortages and other haulage problems that have plagued the United Kingdom in recent months could also become a reality in Spain, so it is in the country’s best interest to improve conditions for its lorry drivers.
“It’s not an attractive job, it’s hard, Juan José Gil, secretary general of Spain’s Federation of Transport Associations (FENASISMER) told Spanish newspaper Voz Populi.
“Drivers spend many days away from home, they do their job in three cubic metres and they’re alone”.
Spain is lacking at least 5,000 heavy duty vehicle drivers and according to the UETR (the European Road Hauliers Association) the continent as a whole has to recruit 400,000 drivers to cover its needs.
As is also happening in the UK, young lorry drivers are becoming increasingly harder to recruit in Spain.
“72 percent of professional drivers are over 50 years of age, meaning only one in four is under 50 years of age in Spain,” according to Ramón Valdivia, general director of Spain’s Association of International Road Transport (ASTIC).
“The British situation is painful but it serves to show that we’re all in this together,” he told Voz Populi.
“The demand for the mobility of goods and people is growing. Society demands more and more that goods be taken to more places, faster and more efficiently, and there are fewer and fewer people capable of doing it”.