Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Long-Haul Truckers Strike Hit Southern Russia Hard – and That’s Why Governors are Talking to the Drivers

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 30 – Now that the long-haul truckers have suspended their strike against the Plato fee system, Moscow media are playing up what they say is the failure of this Russian labor action. But their reports unintentionally show why it was anything but a failure and why regional governments at least have tried to find a common language with the drivers.

            An article in today’s Vedomosti is typical. It says only one one-hundredth of the long-haul truckers went on the strike, a figure that appears to be drawn from Dmitry Medvedev’s discredited claim (vedomosti.ru/business/articles/2017/05/30/692057-dalnoboischiki-inflyatsiyu; cf. windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2017/04/russian-truckers-say-600000-drivers-on.html).

            But beneath that long-discredited claim, one based on undercounts of drivers parked inn strike locations and no counting of drivers who simply refused to drive at all, the Moscow newspaper provides evidence that the strike hit many parts of the Russian Federation and especially the south extremely hard.

            The paper notes that it led to an increase in the cost of long-haul deliveries, to shortages in many stores, and even to increases in prices for certain items.  But it repeats that except in the south, these were minimal and in fact no more than the seasonal declines in shipping that Russia has regularly experienced in the winter and spring.

            The impact of the strike on southern regions of the country helps to explain why the leaders of many of the regions there have been more willing to meet with striking drivers and their union representatives and even willing to make what concessions they can to the workers, although these regional leaders cannot unilaterally cancel the despised Plato system.

            The latest example of such cooperation by regions is from Astrakhan where the governor met with striking drivers yesterday and promised to take steps to meet their demands where he could (astrakhan-24.ru/news/society/obedinit_usilijami_30709 and южнаяволна.рф/news/astrahanskie-novosti/v-nashem-regione-oboruduyut-esche-tri-stoyanki-dly-2151.html).

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