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Spanish truck drivers end strike over soaring costs

Truck drivers in Spain called off a strike over the rising cost of living on Tuesday, just one day after it started, due to low turnout.

Only around 1,000 protesters took part in a demonstration in central Madrid on Monday on the first day of the open-ended strike called by the National Platform in Defence of Transport, which represents self-employed truck drivers and small trucking firms.

Some protests planned for other cities were called off due to a lack of participants and no major disruptions in deliveries were reported.

In a statement, the group blamed the low participation on a “relentless harassment campaign” from rival trucker lobby groups, as well as some officials and media outlets, which it said sought to “discredit the movement”.

It had called the strike to demand additional support from Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s government, accusing it of “inaction” in the face of soaring inflation.

The truckers obtained a one-billion-euro ($1 billion) aid package which included rebates on the price of fuel after staging a 20-day strike in March and April, which led to a sporadic shortage of milk and fresh produce.

That strike had the backing of mainstream haulers lobby groups, but this time major unions such as UGT and CCOO rejected the move, calling it “disproportionate” and “politically motivated”.

The government deployed over 50,000 police to monitor the first day of the strike and “guarantee that the vast majority of carriers who want to work can do so,” Transport Minister Raquel Sanchez said Monday.