French truckers demand aid, threaten roadblocks

25th May 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 25 (AFP) - The head of the French professional truckers' association appealed here Tuesday for government measures to help its members compete against European rivals.

PARIS, May 25 (AFP) - The head of the French professional truckers' association appealed here Tuesday for government measures to help its members compete against European rivals.

"If nothing is done in the short-term, many companies won't make it to the end of the year and the state will bear a heavy responsibility," Jean-Paul Grard, president of the UPR truckers' association, told a press conference.

The UPR is specifically seeking a reducting in charges, quicker reimbursement of funds spent on domestic fuel taxes and more effective controls on European competition.

The association in a letter May 18 to Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said increased diesel prices were hurting the road transport sector in particular and had created "a situation comparable to that of summer 2000," when truckers blocked access to refineries.

"If public authorities do nothing," Grard said in an apparent warning of protest, "the response will be consistent with our disappointment."

In the last 10 years road hauliers have shown a readiness to disrupt French transport severely over grievances connected with working conditions and competitive pressures.

Arguing that it was essential that French trucking companies increase their profitability, he urged greater flexibility in regulations governing breaks and night-time work.

"The sector cannot be regulated from the top," he maintained, referring to the French government.

He said drivers should free "to work more in order to earn more".

© AFP

Subject: French news

 

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