The joint call from five of the largest unions representing hauliers lists a litany of problems facing their members, some the result of Covid rules – such as PCR tests for drivers crossing borders, the 6pm curfew and the closure of restaurants routiers which provide cheap food for drivers – and others the consequences of Brexit.
Widespread confusion over post-Brexit paperwork needed to take goods into the EU has left many drivers waiting for hours or even days in Channel ports until their cargo has the correct forms. In December many drivers were stuck in eight-hour tailbacks in northern France as British firms stockpiled ahead of Brexit.
Since December 23rd, any haulier crossing from the UK to France has needed a Covid test before leaving the country.
The unions have called for an urgent meeting with French transport minister Jean-Baptiste Djebbari to address their concerns, saying: “If the government prefers to ignore the distress which affects all of the members of the hauliers branch at suffering successive and brutal degradation of their working conditions due to the health and economic situation that has been prevailing in our country for many months, that is not the case for our unions.”
The five unions – the UF Route FGTE-CFDT, GCT Transports, FO Transports, CFTC Transports and SG Transports – are calling on their members to prepare “actions that will be visible around the country” from February 1st.
The type of actions are not specified, but popular methods of protest for annoyed French lorry drivers include blockading ports and staging opérations escargots – or rolling roadblocks – along major routes.