Truck Drivers in Russia Urgently Need Your Solidarity
In Russia, despite crackdowns against independent labour union activists, a group of truck drivers organized themselves in mid-November of last year to defend their labor rights and livelihoods. Their goal is to found a nationwide union of truckers that would be run on a non-hierarchical basis by its members. For the last three months, these truckers have been on strike against a draconian new system of cargo haulage tolls that would make it almost impossible for workers like themselves to earn a living.
On December 3, 2015, truck drivers organized a protest camp in Khimki, a suburb of Moscow, that has served as a coordinating center for all striking truckers. At the moment, around ten thousand drivers are taking part in a nationwide strike, and since February 20 of this year, more than ten other protest camps have been set up in different regions of the country.
The truckers would like to keep striking until the so-called Plato system has been abolished. The Plato system has introduced a new set of tolls for long-haul trucks, and it directly benefits the corrupt businessmen and officials who have profited the most from fifteen years of misrule by Vladimir Putin and his cronies.
Russia has not seen such widespread and serious labor protests since the 1990s. The striking drivers are supported by many other downtrodden groups in Russia. In the course of the protests, new networks have emerged through which the truck drivers have issued other demands such as reforming housing policies and reinstating benefits for pensioners as well as abolishing the transport tax. In addition, many wage earners and other precarious groups have been inspired to join the new union of transport workers or form their own new associations or labor unions.
Despite broad support from the Russian public, the Khimki camp is now in dire straits in terms of resources. Above all, the strikers need financial support for publicizing the strike and providing for their families, as they have no sources of income at the moment.
Therefore, we are asking for any kind of solidarity (media, material or other kinds of support) from the international anticapitalist movement, and labor and trade unions around the world.
If you can and want to help us, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yours in solidarity,
The Striking Truck Drivers of Russia