Protesters continue wrecking havoc in Spain
A driver sleeping in his lorry suffered severe burns and had to be taken to the hospital after his vehicle caught fire.11 June 2008
MADRID - Spanish hauliers continued protests against high fuel prices Wednesday, clogging traffic for the third day while the government was trying to negotiate an end to the strike.
A lorry driver was taken to hospital with serious burns after his vehicle began burning in San Isidro near Alicante. The man had been sleeping in the cabin. Several other trucks also burned out. Police were investigating whether strikers had set them on fire.
The incident followed the death of a picket who was hit by a truck near Granada on Tuesday.
Lorries driving at low speeds created traffic jams on access roads to Madrid and in the centre of Murcia in the south. Part of the sea links between the Balearic Islands and the Spanish mainland were cancelled for lack of fuel.
However, police re-established traffic into France at the border post of La Jonquera, where more than 3,000 trucks had been barred entry by pickets.
The government and haulage companies meanwhile continued negotiations which had been abandoned by several hauliers' associations Tuesday after the death of the picket near Granada.
The hauliers say fuel prices eat up to 60 per cent of their income.
The government and a transport commission reached an agreement on 54 support measures to the sector on Tuesday, but the hauliers' associations that had called the strike did not back the agreement.
Infrastructure Minister Magdalena Alvarez rejected the hauliers' demand for a minimum price for their services, describing it as being illegal in a market economy.
Wholesale markets, supermarkets and even small shops have begun running out of fresh fruit, vegetables and milk products as pickets have prevented deliveries and citizens fearful of shortages have stocked up on goods.
Fish stocks have been affected also by strikes by fishermen protesting the fuel prices, with about 85 per cent of the Spanish fleet moored.
Protesting fishermen Wednesday burned tyres in the north-western Pontevedra region, temporarily blocking a bridge between Tui in Spain and Valenca in Portugal. Fishermen trying to enter the Galician regional parliament clashed with police in Santiago de Compostela.
Petrol stations were also running short on fuel in several parts of the country. Police were escorting petrol and food deliveries to protect them from pickets.
Car and some other factories interrupted or were planning to interrupt production for lack of spare parts.
A picket was killed Tuesday also in neighbouring Portugal, where hauliers are staging similar protests.
[dpa / Expatica]
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