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20 October 2017
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Massive lorry queues back on Poland`s eastern border

More than 900 lorries stalled along the Kiev-Krakow highway

Minsk/Kiev/Warsaw - Massive lorry queues were back on Poland`s eastern border on Thursday, in the wake of failed talks between the Warsaw government and union leaders of its national customs service. Belarusian border observation posts reported queues at some locations on the Polish side of the frontier in excess of 45 kilometres, said Aleskander Tishchenko, a Belarus government spokesman, according to DPA.

Polish custom workers put into effect shortly after midnight a "go slow" policy at some points along the Belarusian border, with Kozlovichi-Kukuryki checkpoint where there is heavy traffic, for instance, only processing 51 vehicles in an eight hour period, he said.

The Varshavsky Most checkpoint on the Warsaw-Minsk highway in contrast functioned normally after the talks failed, Tishchenko added.

Increased delays on the Polish-Ukrainian border also were reported after negotiations between Polish customs workers and their employers broke down on Wednesday.

More than 900 lorries attempting to exit Poland, and another 400 trying to get it, were stalled at the Krakovets-Korchova crossing point along the heavily-used Kiev-Krakow highway, according to a Ukraine border troops statement.

Lengthy but smaller lorry queues were reported at all other major crossing sites between Poland and Ukraine.

Passenger vehicles of all types were moving freely in both directions, the Channel 5 television news channel reported.

Union spokeswoman for the customs men, Ivona Folta, said the government side had entered the latest talks "unprepared." The workers are demanding a monthly pay rise of 1,500 zloty (600 dollars) as well as earlier retirement and better protection from attacks.

The industrial action leaving huge tailbacks of trucks and other traffic at border crossings came in response to a refusal by the Warsaw government to improve working conditions for customs workers after Poland became a member of the Schengen Treaty.

That move, at the beginning of the year, obliged Poland to enforce more complicated and stringent border rules.

The industrial action has targeted trucks and trains, producing jams of up to 60 kilometres and waits of up to three days for hapless lorry drivers.

Freight moving between the European Union and Belarus and points eastward already was on Thursday bypassing Poland in increasing numbers via the Baltic states in the north, and Slovakia in the south, according to an Interfax news agency report.

Traffic volumes between Belarus and Lithuania have increased by 30 per cent since the Friday start of delays engineered by Polish customs worker to pressure their employers.

Belarus` and Ukraine`s governments, fearing ecological damage from the idling lorries and a public health threat from thousands of lorry drivers stuck on rural highways, have been providing food and shelter to motorists at public expense, in some cases since Saturday.

Ukraine`s government estimated state income lost due to reduced customs proceeds, and costs connected with supporting the stranded drivers, at more than 8 million dollars a day.

Belarus` government intended to sue Poland and, if necessary, the European Union for damages suffered, according to a Belarus Ministry of Justice statement.

DPA

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