Polish truckers will block several border crossings with Ukraine starting next week in protest at what they say is Ukrainian hauliers’ free rein in Poland that is hurting their business, a co-organiser of the protest told Reuters.

The protest, planned to start on Nov. 6, comes amid an economic slowdown in Europe and a relaxation of regulations for Ukrainian transport companies in 2022 by the European Union to ease the transport of goods to and out of the country invaded by Russia.

The protesters plan to stop trucks travelling at three border crossings, letting through one truck per hour, but exempting shipments of equipment for Ukraine’s army and vehicles transporting livestock, according to a protest notification seen by Reuters.

Protesters’ demands include reimposing restrictions on the number of Ukraine-registered trucks entering Poland and a ban on transport companies with capital from outside the European Union, among others, according to the notification.

“Ukrainian transport companies are … entering without restrictions and carrying out transport operations they have no right to perform,” said Jacek Sokol, protest co-organizer and deputy head of the Committee to Protect Transporters and Transport Employers.

He said the protest measures would affect traffic in both directions at crossings in Dorohusk and Hrebenne-Rawa Ruska, as well as outbound traffic through Korczowa.

According to Sokol, prior to Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian transport companies were granted 160,000-180,000 permits per year for specific shipments requiring entrance or transit through Poland, but not for shipments within the country.

“Now these companies are doing whatever they want. There is a complete, uncontrolled influx, just like with grain.”

The blockade is just an opportunity to block the border for Ukrainian competitor truckers, Ukraine’s Deputy Infrastructure Minister Serhiy Derkach was quoted by local media as saying. They account for 85% of those who cross the Ukrainian-Polish border to bring goods into Ukraine or export goods, he added.

According to the Ukrainian Infrastructure Ministry, an average of 40,000-50,000 trucks cross the border with Poland per month via eight existing crossings, twice as many as before the war. Most of the goods are carried by Ukraine’s transport fleet.

An owner of a Polish haulage company and head of a driver association in the eastern Polish city of Siedlce told Reuters the protest was a grassroots initiative and reflected a wider issue of Polish transport companies losing markets east of Poland, due to Russian counter-sanctions since the February 2022 invasion.

“This is actually the result of the despair of the (Polish) carriers, those who have actually lost these mainly eastern markets. I mean Ukraine and Belarus, Russia and all other countries to which Russia transits,” Karol Rychlicki said.

“These are usually small family companies, not some large businesses… In trying to find alternative jobs, they are destabilising the transport services market by running below costs.”

Rychlicki said Polish truckers had first issued their demands to the government in July, but a response from the likely outgoing government only came in late October and was unsatisfactory.

“These carriers have taken matters into their own hands and are trying to demand justice,” he said of the planned protest.