Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Russian Truck Drivers Strike

Truck drivers and owners should take a look at how Russian truck drivers are protesting a new crippling tax per kilometer. The Caucasus drivers are striking a road tax, dubbed “Plato,” on trucks weighing more than 12 tons are charged more for each kilometer of federal highway they drive. There are more than 2 million trucks registered in Russia. The 1.5-ruble tax is to be doubled in March to 3-rubles-6 kopecks per kilometer. If truckers refuse to pay the tax, entrepreneurs are fined 40,000 rubles ($634.43 U.S. dollars), and companies 450,000 rubles or $7,109.38 in U.S. currency. If a driver makes 40 to 50 rubles per trip, and the trip tax would be 15,ooo rubles, how are the truckers supposed to support themselves? Adding insult to injury, the collection system has been turned over to a private company by the son of a close associate of President Vladimir Putin. The Russian truckers converged on Moscow crippling the beltway in what they called the “snail,” driving slowly tying up traffic for weeks. Think this can’t happen here? State gas taxes are dropping rapidly due to more fuel efficient vehicles. To solve the deficit, state governments are considering a road tax or mileage toll. California is considering this tax to compensate for the $59 billion backlog in highway and bridge maintenance. U.S. truckers should keep an eye on how Russia’s and the U.S. states how this issue works out. The mileage toll is being considered for personal vehicles, but trucks will be included since trucks travel a lot further than the average car. If it goes into effect it will hurt the little trucking owners the most and probably put most out of business while the large corporate trucking companies will pass the costs along to customers, thereby making their companies larger, and again hurting the little people. This just goes to show that workers worldwide have a lot in common and should learn from each other and support each other when we can, such as demanding a living wage and forming a union if they want. If workers do not come together, the workers of the world could end up holding up their underwear in protest telling the government that they have robbed them of everything, like the Russian truck drivers are doing now. The Russians’ frustration is not new. In the Arizona copper mines strike of 1983, the Phelps Dodge Corporation quashed striking workers by using the National Guard. One protestor was so frustrated that he began stripping off his clothes and throwing them at the Guard until he was naked. It was all he had to fight with to try to stop the National Guard from breaking the strike and his union. Today, workers are starting to feel the same pressures. This could be the tipping point for our capitalist system. The oligarchies had better be paying attention.