The protests in the transport sector due to the rise in fuel prices affect the entire country and threaten the shortage of raw materials throughout Spain. The strikes called by different freight transport associations have emptied supermarket shelves, hit businesses and have collapsed the center of cities where demonstrations and pickets have made visible the unanimous cry of a sector: “At the price it is now, fuel costs us money go out to work.” EL PAÍS puts a face to some of the carriers that support the protests. They all collect identical problems.
“I have to support my family”
Iván Leal is 42 years old, he is the son and grandson of a transporter and he has been with the truck stopped for a week. This Tuesday he was one of the members of the informative picket that has paralyzed the Port of Barcelona. Leal is one of the members of the Association of Port Carriers Sintraport, an organization made up of more than 800 self-employed workers specialized in the transport of port containers from Barcelona to anywhere in Spain and Europe. “It cannot be that we charge the same rates that we charged in 2008 and they raise the price of diesel and we do not complain. That is why we are here. For that and for my family, because I have to support my children, ”defends Leal. The truck driver has been working 15 hours a day on the cab of his truck since he was 22 years old to bring food home.
“The parties can do what they want, but we are apolitical”
Along with Leal, David Orduño, 49, also wearing a yellow vest, informs his colleagues who are trying to enter the port area. “No full truck is leaving the port because no one is working. Only wage earners who are not carrying loads come, ”he maintains. Orduño knows that the pressure of the protest is already being felt and he hopes that it will soon end. “We all have families and we all have to earn a living. They say that the price of transport has increased, but we do not see it in our invoices. Send each can of these [dice señalando a los contenedores] from China to Barcelona cost 3,000 euros years ago. Now 15,000. The consumer is sure that it is more expensive, but they pay me exactly the same as they paid me, ”he laments. Orduño also got behind the wheel at the age of 22 and wants to continue working on the truck. “The other day at a protest a leader from Vox came, but make no mistake, the parties can do what they want, but we are apolitical. We just want our problems to be solved,” he says.
He knows in depth all the sides of the coin.
“It’s a real wreck”
Andrés Larios, 54, has been behind the wheel for even more years. “We have been to many demonstrations. We have trucks that cost 120,000 euros and they wanted us to change them to the Low Emissions Zone. It was the last time we went out on the street, ”he recalls. Larios is clear: “A transport from here Barcelona to Girona, is 200 kilometers, they pay 265 euros, but we spend 35 liters every 100 kilometers, self-employed pay, truck repairs, management… it is a real ruin”,
If yesterday’s protest in Barcelona was carried out by a port association that paralyzed the maritime facility, in Madrid a slow march left the San Fernando de Henares industrial estate to Getafe, collapsing the entire route. Although they were few, there was a presence of women in the concentrations.
“It is more profitable for me to stay here in the truck”
María Delgado, 38, started working as a carrier eight months ago. Before, she had worked in the hotel industry, in a pastry factory, as an ambulance technician… now, she is a salaried employee of a fleet of 12 trucks and earns 1,800 euros a month. She sleeps almost every day in a folding bed inside her truck. “I get up, I get dressed and I’m already at work. It is more profitable for me to stay here”, she says, satisfied.
To the hardship of the profession, he adds another for working in an excessively masculinized sector: “Going to the bathroom in Madrid is very complicated because there are very few rest areas. Men can do it anywhere.” He travels throughout Spain, night and day, to load the merchandise in ports such as Santander or Valencia. Inside the containers he has transferred all kinds of materials, from garbage to the paper with which the banknotes are designed. He will support the strike in the sector in a profession in which he has only been working for eight months.
“Maintaining a vehicle is unfeasible”
Juan de la Moya, 49, was also at the Madrid protest this Tuesday. He transports aggregates from the gravel pits of Toledo to the concrete plants of that community. Every day he gets up at five in the morning and travels an average of 500 kilometers per day. The man from Madrid also participated in the strike resulting from the 2008 crisis. At that time he was self-employed, but three years ago he started working for a transport company. “Instead of going bankrupt, I decided to get rid of the truck. Maintaining a vehicle is unfeasible”, he sentences. On a normal day, he calculates, he can spend up to 200 liters of gasoline, about 300 euros. And the truck bills only 400.
“My parents did not want to see me on a truck, but now they feel proud”
Soraya de Lucas, 31, is also participating in the Madrid protest. She lives in Torrejón de Ardoz and in her family they are all truck drivers. She inherited the company from her father, created in 1990, in which her brother and cousin now also work. “This month we will surely have losses.” She has never considered working for something else: “My parents didn’t want to see me on a truck, but now they feel proud.” She fixes the breakdowns herself and changes the wheels. Her cabin is, at the same time, her workshop and her office.
The life of these six carriers is similar to that of the thousands of truck drivers who protest throughout Spain and who demand that after the fuel price rise, going to work “does not cost money”.