NO hot meals, showers or toilets at service stations during the coronavirus outbreak leaves Spanish lorry drivers exhausted and dangerously fatigued.
The Transport sector is ‘indignant’ that some highway rest stops are not complying with orders from the government to provide drivers with ‘essential services.’
With the State of Alarm aimed at stemming the spread of coronavirus, much of the country has been shut down. Yet, lorry drivers are complaining that many highway rest stops are also closed, leaving them without anywhere to eat a meal, shower, or even go to the toilet.
In many rest areas on highways, the restaurants and bars are shuttered. In some places, lorry drivers say that even the restrooms are locked and all they can find is a coffee vending machine outside.
The situation in deserted rest areas has left many lorry drivers feeling indignant, especially during the health crisis that has made their work more fundamental than ever.
Lorry drivers treated ‘like animals’
Despite making up for the lack of basic services by taking necessary provisions with them, many drivers still feel they are being treated ‘like animals,’ and complain that having nowhere to wash flies in the face of advice to take extreme care with hygiene.
“We are used to going for three days without a shower if it’s necessary, but we’re humans and the work is taking its toll, even though we understand what the situation is,” says another lorry driver.
At the same time, the drivers have praise for the protection measures introduced to ensure their safety at work and say they are provided with face masks and gloves and these days often do not even have to leave the cabin when loading or unloading.
Drivers ‘have the right’ to basic services, says the federation
Yet, the issue of basic services on the road remains a problem and the transport workers federation in the southern region of Tarragona, Feat, reiterates that the state authorities declared that drivers “have the right” to restrooms and “essential services.”
While the federation’s head, Josep Lluís Aymat, acknowledges that the authorities responded to the sector’s calls for such services to be guaranteed, the problem he says is that not all rest areas are complying with the emergency rules.
According to Aymat, not everyone is showing “solidarity with the efforts the transport sector is making,” and his federation is advising its members to report those places around Spain that do not provide access to basic facilities, such as toilets or a hot meal.
Meanwhile, Aymat praises drivers for their efforts in helping to keep stores stocked and he imagines a situation in which the public were to find empty shelves: “The panic it would have caused has been avoided by the transport sector,” he says.