Ten trucks were parked on the roadside outside the company’s quarry operation at Minish, Killarney, yesterday, with drivers claiming they were forced to take action because of the company’s failure to address issues of concern to them.
“The cost of fuel and the costs of running a haulage business have increased significantly and both Roadstone Wood and the hauliers are fully aware that hauliers are now operating below cost,” they said in a statement.
The sides had a meeting last September at which the case for a rates increase was highlighted, but the hauliers said they had heard nothing since then from the company.
The hauliers said the decision to withdraw services had not been made lightly, as some of them had been providing a service to the company for almost 30 years.
“We organised this work stoppage for February so that it has the least impact on the company and, most of all, the customers,” the statement said.
“Sufficient time was given to the company to discuss the issue and haulier representatives are available to meet with them but, to date, the company has declined the offer.”
The Irish Road Haulage Association (IRHA), which is supporting the Kerry hauliers, said it was a national issue that also affected hauliers working for Roadstone Wood Ltd in other parts of the country. IRHA president Eoin Gavin said the association had presented a plan to the company last November, but nothing had happened since then.
At the heart of the dispute are rates, contracts and sustainability of work so that hauliers can get finance from banks and other institutions to maintain or purchase trucks in order to remain in business, he said.
“At this stage, we’re concerned the company is playing hardball tactics with small family businesses,” Mr Gavin said.
“We want a working relationship so that things can move forward, but the thing does not seem to be moving forward. This is a very short-sighted tactic by the company.”
Roadstone Wood Ltd declined to comment.