Belfast Telegraph

Fuel-row hauliers delay action

Hauliers threatening to cripple the freight system and withhold taxes have given the Government one more week to agree to a crisis meeting over rising fuel prices.

More than 200 truck drivers gathered in Limerick for a conference to decide on whether to strike and stop paying VAT and PRSI payments.

Vincent Caulfield, outgoing president of the Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA), said the hauliers had instead opted to put pressure on government to listen to their concerns.

He said anger among members struggling to survive soaring costs had reached boiling point, but they had postponed direct action to provide government with a window of opportunity

Delegates tabled two motions, one proposing a withholding of tax, while a second suggested strike action, in a bid to force government to meet the association.

Mr Caulfield said: "We had a long discussion on it today, but as the meeting commenced we got a phone call from the Minister For Transport Mr Varadkar's secretary to say he would meet us in the week after Easter.

"We haven't had a response from the Department of Finance yet and it is very disappointing because Finance deal with fuel duty. We are looking for government to do something on fuel duty because of the high cost of fuel.

"Today's meeting decided we would give them a week. We will notify them on Monday morning that we had a very angry meeting. We have five issues that we want addressed. We need a meeting with them or a commitment to a meeting by next Saturday, or otherwise a different course of action will have to be taken."

The haulage industry contributed more than one billion euro to the public purse last year and employs more than 50,000 people, according to the IRHA. They want the Government to introduce a fuel duty rebate for tax compliant hauliers and to permit licensed freight carriers to pass on carbon taxes to customers the as with VAT

Fuel price hikes have increased the running costs of an average truck - burning 1,000 litres of fuel every week - by as much as 15,000 euro a year, the association said.

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