The threat of bankruptcy faced by several companies operating in Germany's transport sector following drastic increases in the price of diesel and a rise in truck tolls on the country's roads has prompted one major regional transport association to threaten protests and other actions which may lead to shortages in supermarkets.
Bernward Franzky, chief executive of the Lower Saxony Transport Industry Association, told Reuters his organisation was also prepared to go on strike, if necessary. "Our companies and employees are ready to go to the barricades," he said.
Up to 5,000 transport industry jobs are understood to be at risk following recent fuel price hikes, according to Mr Franzky. "The diesel price burden is disastrous for the transport sector," he said. "Within a year, the cost has risen by €12,000 per truck, which is something companies cannot offset."
Higher tolls have also been to blame, added Mr Franzky, with rates rising from 13.5 euro cents per km to 16.3 euro cents per km. "This puts an extra burden of €9,500 per year on each truck," he noted.
According to Reuters, some 300 freight forwarders face bankruptcy in Lower Saxony alone, while across Germany the number is estimated to be around ten times that amount.
Mr Franzky also hinted that the major supermarkets should be doing more to absorb the rising cost of fuel. "There are a large number of clients who believe they can further their own profits at the expense of trucking," he explained, arguing that rises in diesel prices should be passed on. "Transport companies say clearly that they will not just accept this."