July 31, 2012

Brazilian Truckers Block Highways in Protest of New Law

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Brazilian truckers forced the closure of numerous federal and state highways late last week to protest a new law that they feel will greatly impact their profession. Numerous strategic highways were closed late last week as truckers parked their rigs on the highways. Due to the number of protests at strategic locations, motorists were advised to stay off the highways due to a lack of alternative routes.

They are upset the new law that opens up the freight hauling system to thousands of independent truckers who the established drivers feel are non-professionals. They feel it will drive down freight rates even lower than they are already, making it impossible to compete successfully.

The official organizations representing the truck drivers are not sanctioning the road closures because they feel it results in too much negative public opinion, but they are in favor of conducting protests against the new law. They would prefer that the drivers park their rigs and not haul any material instead of imposing a huge inconvenience on the general public.

In addition to opposing the new legislation, the drivers are upset over new rules that stipulate that a driver can only work for 13 hours per day with 11 hours of rest in between. During long distance drives they are required to rest 30 minutes every four hours. If a driver is caught violating these regulations, they face a very high fine and even loss of their truck. In addition to opposing these regulations, they feel the biggest problem with this new rule is that there are not enough adequate locations to park their trucks to rest. They want the state or federal governments to establish official rest areas with adequate facilities to accommodate the mandated rest periods.

The vast majority of merchandise in Brazil moves by truck, so supply shortages could develop quickly if the protest continues.