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Gov’t-truckers deal fails to end roadblocks

Despite the agreement reached by truck drivers and government officials on Wednesday (Feb 25), truckers kept a number of federal highways partly or totally blocked in the morning today (26).

In Rio Grande do Sul, for instance, the Federal Highway Police (PRF) announced that 27 stretches of federal highways are still blocked by demonstrators all across the state; in Paraná, 18 blockades have been set up in 10 roads; and in Santa Catarina five federal highways have been partly closed off at 11 points.

In Mato Grosso do Sul, blocked-off roads can be found in two cities.

In Mato Grosso, ten roadblocks set up yesterday (24) are still in place on highways BR-364, 163, and 70. According to the PRF, protesters are allowing the passage of trucks with living cargo, perishable goods, passenger cars, and buses.

On Wednesday (25), after a meeting with officials from the Ministry of Transport, government authorities and truckers reached a deal that should bring the protests to an end. The president of the National Confederation of Autonomous Freight Drivers (CNTA), Diumar Bueno, said that the proposal present by the authorities was accepted by the workers present at the negotiations.

After the agreement was signed, Transport Minister Antônio Carlos Rodrigues pointed out that the deal will only be fulfilled after roads are once again unobstructed.

Under the deal, the government agrees to pass, without any vetoes, the law which stipulates the rules for working as a trucker, including a maximum 12 workhours per day, at least 11 hours of rest between workdays, and drug tests required for issuing or renewing one’s driver’s license. The government is also to extend by 12 months the deadline for the payment of the trucks acquired under the government-launched loan program Procaminhoneiro. Another stipulation was the creation of a reference table for freight prices agreed upon by truckers and traders. On this topic, truck drivers  have asked government authorities to act on their behalf in the negotiations with the traders.

According to Diumar Bueno, truckers made real achievements at the negotiation table. “Faced by the predicament in which the country finds itself, we kindly ask truck drivers to consider the achievements made here and free the roads,” he said, adding, however, that he could not guarantee the end of the blockades.

Closing off federal highways caused a significant impact in more than ten Brazilian states, with price hikes and shortages of milk, fruit, and vegetables.

Translated by Fabrício Ferreira

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