The Impact of the Truck Driver Strike on Life in Spain

Spain is currently in the grips of a lorry driver strike. This is an open-ended strike by Spanish lorry drivers across the country, and is causing a huge number of problems for the Spanish supply chain. Many businesses are being put under unprecedented pressure, and consumers are being considerably impacted.

Why Are the Lorry Drivers Striking?

The strike action was called by a small number of lorry driver unions in Spain as a response to the crippling petrol prices in the country. These are significantly impacting the transportation sector, squeezing salaries and profit margins dramatically. What started as a small strike has quickly escalated into multiple roadblocks and protests. These are being held around Spanish ports, industrial areas, and commercial zones.

At this point, 45 protesters have been arrested and truck drivers who aren’t taking part in the strikes are being intimidated by those picketing. Discussions are currently underway to address the impact of the rising fuel prices, but there is no concrete solution or end to the strikes in sight at this point.

The lorry driver strike has now moved into its second week and, as a result of the strike itself, in conjunction with lorry driver roadblocks and demonstrations, many sectors have reached crisis point. Because the strike has come at the same time as rising inflation across the country, and the increasing impact of the war in Ukraine, this is only going to make the general cost of living worse for many people living in Spain.

What Sectors Are Being Impacted by the Strike?

  • Tap Water. If you are living in Northern Spain then you will no doubt already be aware that there are serious concerns that drinkable tap water could run out in the region in the coming days. This is because the chemical that is delivered to the treatment plants in the region in order to make the water drinkable will not be delivered as a result of the strike.

    This is a question of public sanitation, and one that is incredibly concerning, according to Jose Luis Caravia. Mr Caravia is the manager of Asturquimia (one of three companies in charge of managing tap water supplies in Spain). When interviewed about the situation, he stated that the transport strike “has 100 percent compromised the administration system of sodium hypochlorite for water chlorination in municipal drinking water stations”.  What will happen next to avert this crisis is yet to be seen, but we do know that time is running out to find a solution to this issue. 
  • Flowers. More Spanish flowers are cut in March than in any other month of the year. In fact, 70% of flowers for the whole year are already cut: and these should already be on display in Spanish shops and supermarkets.  Instead they are stuck in cold storage units across the country.  According to Luis Manuel Rivera, the head of Andalucia’s cut flower association, the problem is a huge one for those working within the fresh and cut flower sector in the country.

    “The chambers are full after 5 days without even a single flower being taken out, so they will have to be thrown away. The same as with the flowers that are in the greenhouse that have to be collected, they should go to the storage chambers but instead they’ll have to go to be binned”.
  • Fuel. Like the rest of Europe, Spain is already in the grips of a fuel crisis, with prices skyrocketing and concerns about availability. But, as a direct result of the Spanish lorry driver strike, we are now seeing a shortage of fuel at the pumps. According to Spain’s automatic fuel station association Aesae, several areas, including Andalusia, Valencia and Murcia are seeing a shortage of both petrol and diesel at the pumps purely because of problems transporting the fuel to the pumps.

    In a statement, Aesae stated that “Some of the more than 1,300 automatic gas stations in Spain are suffering supply problems caused by the stoppage of road transport that Spain has suffered since this week.”
  • The Wider Automotive Sector. Fueling up your vehicle might become trickier as a result of the lorry driver strike, but so too will buying a new car or securing a spare part for your existing vehicle. Several vehicle manufacturing companies, including Volkswagen, Ford, and the tyre manufacturer Bridgestone have temporarily closed their factories in Spain.

    The reason for this is because the picketing and roadblocks put in place by the striking lorry drivers have completely paralysed their production processes. The knock-on effects of this for car sales will be considerable, at least in the short term.
  • Building Materials. Finally, the construction sector in Spain is also being considerably impacted by a lack of supplies caused by the lorry driver strike. Materials such as bricks and concrete have both been reported to be in short supply, and this had led to some projects being paused in Cadiz, Seville, and Andalusia, meaning now is not the time to start a home improvement project.

    Prior to the strike, the Spanish National Association of Concrete Manufacturers (Anefhop) warned of the risk of bankruptcy of the entire sector due to the rising price of raw materials, a situation “never before experienced in Spain”. The strike action has only further exagerated that situation, causing a real problem for the construction sector.

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