Kinnock plans strike-free lorry routes

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The Independent Online
The European Transport Commissioner, Neil Kinnock, is studying proposals to establish strike-free transport routes across France as lorry drivers threaten further industrial action.

The Road Haulage Association warned yesterday that Europe was "on the brink of transport chaos" after it emerged that French drivers are threatening another strike over pay and conditions.

Mr Kinnock has been asked to impose a "strike tax" on EU member states that fail to keep their transport routes open. He has also been asked to designate certain roads as "routes of special strategic importance" which member states would be obliged to keep open at all times. British road hauliers favour the latter course.

The threat of fresh industrial action follows last November's strikes by French lorry drivers which caused major disruption across Europe. At the height of the dispute, more than 1,000 British hauliers were caught in blockades, costing an estimated pounds 1.5m in lost contracts and goods. More than 800 British drivers are still seeking compensation.

The Road Haulage Association said: "It appears that fresh action by the French hauliers is imminent, with Europe on the brink of a fresh round of transport chaos. Our members are still counting the cost from last year's dispute, and new action could mean the end for a number of British businesses.

"We urge both the British and French governments to do everything they can to avert more disastrous industrial action."

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