(Bloomberg) -- Truckers in Slovakia joined Polish counterparts in staging a blockade at the border with Ukraine, escalating a protest over competition that Kyiv says has disrupted crucial humanitarian aid imports.
The Union of Slovak Haulers began the labor action on Friday at the country’s only crossing for freight transport, extending blockades along the Poland-Ukraine frontier that’s caused traffic chaos for weeks. The Slovak drivers are demanding that the European Union reverse a wartime decision to loosen licensing rules for Ukrainian truckers.
The disruption to competition has had a “devastating impact on the Slovak transport market, but also on the markets of other neighboring states and throughout the EU,” the union said in a statement. The organization, which will gauge whether a Dec. 4 meeting of EU transport ministers in Brussels address their demands, said the blockade will last until further notice.
Polish truckers began blocking three crossings with Ukraine on Nov. 6, triggering pileups of tens of thousands of vehicles on both sides of the border in freezing temperatures. Two Ukrainian drivers have died. The government in Kyiv accused Poland of inaction as trade is disrupted as the country fights off the Russian invasion. Warsaw has pointed the finger at Kyiv.
The blockades diverted traffic south to the Slovak crossing at Vysne Nemecke, which lies across the border from the Ukrainian city of Uzhhorod. Slovak police have said traffic lines have extended as far as 20 kilometers (12 miles), with waits of as long as five days.
The union said the blockade won’t affect humanitarian and military aid, livestock, fuel and fresh goods. Commercial transport will be allowed through at a rate of four trucks per hour, it said. The border crossing usually sees some 700 trucks travel through on a weekly basis.
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