Talks with the National Road Transport Committee lasted twelve hours. | Efe


Twelve hours of talks on Thursday into the early hours of Friday morning have resulted in agreement to reduce the price of a litre of fuel by 20 cents until June 30.

Spanish government ministers and the National Road Transport Committee (CNTC) reached a consensus which both parties hope will convince truckers on indefinite strike to resume normal activity. Haulier associations which are members of the CNTC say that the agreement amounts to government aid totalling 1,050 million euros.

The price reduction applies to the so-called professional rate of fuel for the transport sector - it doesn't apply to all fuel - and will be borne partly by the government (15 cents) and by suppliers. Government calculations suggest a monthly saving of around 700 euros per truck that runs on diesel. This represents 600 million euros of the package. In addition, there are 450 million euros in the form of direct government aid - 1,250 euros per truck, 950 per coach, 500 per van and 300 per light vehicle, such as a taxi.

The government will also draft a bill for the transport sector which will apply "the principles of law to the food chain" in order to avoid abuse of subcontracting and to paying for services at prices lower than cost. This will be presented to the CNTC no later than the end of July.

However, the Platform for the Defence of the Freight Transport Sector, principally responsible for the hauliers strike, insisted on Thursday that they "totally" ruled out ending the strike, regardless of the result of the negotiation. A demonstration in front of the transport ministry's headquarters in Madrid is scheduled for Friday.

One of the grievances of this group, which represents small businesses and self-employed truckers, is that the government has excluded them from talks. They are not represented on the CNTC, which the government considers to be the "legitimate" body for negotiation.