An agreement reached Wednesday night between government officials and representatives of Colombia’s striking truckers should put an end to over two weeks of work stoppages, reported local media.
The Minister of Transport told reporters that the deal will freeze gas prices through December, adjust fees on truck fleets to the cost of operating vehicles and create a commission to study longterm policy changes.
Pedro Aguilar, the President of Colombia’s largest trucker union (ACC), reportedly gave the order to his constituents to lift their 18 day work stoppage, saying the deal “dignifies” Colombian trucking.
Close to half-a-million truckers are estimated to have participated in the strike, along with 300,000 trucks, claiming the high price of gas and inflated loan rates on their trucks made it financially impossible to operate at a profit. For more than two weeks, the shutdown of parts of the Colombian transport sector devastated local economies throughout the country, as truckers protested fuel costs alongside striking farmers.
Over the course of protests, the truckers kept their word of staying off the roadways, instead parking their trucks on the side of various highways, thereby avoiding any significant clashes with police forces.
The president of the other major truckers union involved in negotiations (ACT) told reporters that some issues, such as access to more affordable lines of credit on truck purchases, are still being discussed.
Negotiators representing the truckers are scheduled to meet again with government officials today, after a week of intense negotiations, to formalize yesterday’s agreement and work out some of the lingering details. According to the Transport Minister, an ongoing dialogue table will be created immediately to come up with more lasting policy changes while the price freeze remains in effect.