Espreso. Global

Polish farmers to strike across country, resume blockade of Ukrainian border

2 February, 2024 Friday
16:49

The Polish farmers' union Solidarity announced a general strike across the country starting February 9, which will begin with a blockade of all checkpoints on the Ukrainian border, as well as roads and highways in certain voivodeships

The union’s statement says this.

"Our patience has run out. Brussels' position on the last day of January 2024 is unacceptable for our entire agricultural community. In addition, the passivity of the Polish authorities and statements about cooperation with the European Commission and statements about compliance with all decisions of the European Commission on imports of agricultural and food products from Ukraine leave us no choice but to declare a general strike," the statement says.

Farmers emphasize that the agreement on the implementation of the European Green Deal, the EU's farm-to-table strategy, and the EU's Common Agricultural Policy are not available in the proposed form.

They believe that the Polish government should have a clear plan for agricultural production, profitability of production, and reconstruction of Polish processing and trade.

"We will fight for it to the end. Polish family farms are the backbone of the country's food security. Healthy Polish food produced by Polish farmers is the basis for the nutrition and health of the citizens of the Republic of Poland. The Presidium of Solidarity calls for solidarity of the entire agricultural community," the farmers emphasized in a statement.

They called for unity and constructive action for the benefit of the entire agricultural community.

Farmers have warned that from February 9 to March 10, as part of the agrarian protests, trade unions will temporarily block some roads across the country and block checkpoints on the border with Ukraine.

Farmers have warned that from February 9 to March 10, as part of the agrarian protests, trade unions will temporarily block some roads across the country and block checkpoints on the border with Ukraine.

Ukraine's response

Andriy Demchenko said during the telethon that Ukraine's State Border Guard Service has not yet received official confirmation from Poland of information about the possible re-blocking of the border by Polish farmers.

"We have also seen this information in open sources, but we have not yet received any official confirmation from our colleagues, the Polish border guards, that this could happen," he said.

Strikes on the border between Poland and Ukraine

Strikes have erupted on the Poland-Ukraine border due to increased competition following the opening of international transportation between Ukraine and EU nations. To address this, the Ministry for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development initiated talks with Poland and the European Commission.

Responding to the potential border blockage, the State Border Guard Service provided comments, and Ukraine formally communicated its concerns to Poland regarding the planned strike by Polish carriers at the Ukrainian-Polish border.

On November 6, Polish carriers initiated a strike at the border. The Ministry of Infrastructure noted that no official demands had been submitted by the Polish carriers to Kyiv.

By the evening of November 7, Polish carriers had fully halted the movement of cargo vehicles at two border checkpoints with Ukraine.

Subsequently, it was revealed that trucks are facing up to a 90-hour wait to enter Ukraine.

On November 9, a meeting of government officials and carriers blocking the border with Ukraine took place in Poland, but it concluded without any resolution. Simultaneously, the lines of trucks are growing longer. Consequently, Ukraine has suggested to the Polish authorities the initiation of lanes for empty trucks and is currently awaiting their response.

On November 15, trilateral talks with Poland and the European Commission on unblocking the crossing points took place, but they did not yield any results. Instead, the European Commission may initiate measures against Poland if the authorities do not resolve the issue of carriers blocking checkpoints on the border with Ukraine.

Polish carriers have promised to tighten the blockade on the border with Ukraine. In addition, customs officers have begun to record an increase in truck queues in the Slovak direction.

Ukraine and Poland are preparing claims for damages caused by the blockade of border crossing points due to the rally of Polish carriers. In addition, it has been reported that Polish carriers are not allowing humanitarian aid and dangerous goods to pass through.

According to Volodymyr Balin, vice president of the Association of International Road Carriers, Polish carriers are violating the terms of the strike, which could help to get it called off. At the same time, the Ukrainian economy has already suffered losses of more than €400 million.

Meanwhile, the Polish government has called on Ukraine to cancel the e-queue registration for empty trucks. Poland’s Minister of Agriculture also met with the protesters and offered them a compromise solution.

On December 1, the blocked Ukrainian drivers at the Polish border held talks with the consul. On December 4, the Uhryniv-Dolhobyczów border crossing point opened to empty trucks.

On December 4, the EU Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council (TTE) will discuss the situation with the blockade on the Polish-Ukrainian border.

As a result of the protesters' blocking of the border with Ukraine, exports through these checkpoints decreased by 40%, and the state budget of Ukraine lost UAH 9.3 billion due to a shortfall in customs payments. 

Later it became known that the trucks blocked on the border with Poland would be returned to Ukraine by rail. On the evening of December 7, Ukrainian Railways sent the first container train with trucks to Poland, consisting of 23 platforms with 13 loaded tractors and semi-trailers.

On December 11, truck traffic was unblocked at the Polish-Ukrainian border through the Yahodyn-Dorohusk checkpoint. 

The European Commission called for the unblocking of all checkpoints on the border with Poland.

On December 14, the mayor of the Polish commune of Dorohusk, Wojciech Sawa, did not allow carriers to block the Yahodyn-Dorohusk checkpoint on the border with Ukraine.

However, on December 15, the District Court in Lublin has overturned the ban of Wojciech Sawa, head of the Dorohusk Commune

On December 18, Polish farmers from the United Village union said they would join the border blockade in Dorohusk, starting on Monday, December 18

On December 23, Polish farmers suspended their protests at the Shehyni-Medyka border crossing point. The new Polish government said it would hold talks with the protesters.

On January 4, they resumed the blockade of the border crossing and said they planned to protest until February 3.

Deputy Minister of Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development Serhiy Derkach said that Ukraine has fulfilled its part of the action plan agreed with the Polish government to unblock the border with Ukraine for Polish carriers. Now Kyiv is waiting for further steps from Warsaw.

European Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean has sent a letter to Polish Minister of Infrastructure Dariusz Klimczak regarding the blocking of checkpoints on the border with Ukraine by Polish carriers.

On January 16, Polish carriers ended their protest on the border with Ukraine.

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