Authorities scramble to stop nationwide strike
In an attempt to halt the truckers’ strike, the government has promised to undertake several potent measures to cope with rising fuel prices.9 June 2008
MADRID - The government is scrambling to halt a nationwide strike by truckers from Monday that could leave supermarket shelves empty and gas stations dry by the end of the week.
The strike, which was preceded over the weekend by transport workers blocking roads in Catalonia, Valencia and Asturias, has been called in response to rising fuel prices that truckers say are causing them to operate at a loss.
They are demanding cuts in taxes on diesel, the ability to revise contracts to reflect rising fuel prices and a range of other subsidies.
The government has so far ruled out cutting taxes, but yesterday it promised several "potent measures" to alleviate at least some of the effects of higher fuel prices.
"We've put our best people on this... and we are looking at a range of options," Juan Miguel Sánchez, the director general for road transport affairs at the Public Works Ministry, said Sunday.
Although the sector's largest federation, CETM, is not supporting the strike, other groups and a large number of freelance haulers are expected to launch protests and mount blockades on roads across the country.
On Sunday, Catalan truckers caused long traffic jams on the AP-7 highway as people drove to the Montmeló race track for the MotoGP motorbike race. Similar protests are likely to spread nationwide Monday and could provoke food and fuel shortages in some areas as early as Thursday.
In Portugal, around half the nation's truckers are also expected to begin a strike on Monday.
[El Pais / A. Eatwell / Expatica]