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Spanish truckers begin fresh strike as costs soar

Truck drivers in Spain began an indefinite strike on Monday to protest the rising cost of living, just eight months after a similar protest caused shortages of food and goods.

The strike by the National Platform in Defence of Transport, which represents small truck owners and self-employed truckers, comes ahead of regional elections in May and a general election expected at the end of 2023.

It so far has not been joined by Spain’s larger national trucking associations and Spain’s main wholesale market for fresh products, Mercamadrid, reported no problems with deliveries.

Transport Minister Raquel Sanchez said the impact of the strike so far has been “minimal” and thanked “all truck drivers who are carrying out their work as usual”.

Truck drivers protested in the centre of Madrid and several other cities, although some demonstrations in some locations were called off.

The group that called the strike accuses Socialist Prime minister Pedro Sanchez’s government 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 sporadic shortage of milk and fresh produce.

But the head of the platform, Manuel Hernandez, accused the government of not respecting the promises it made earlier this year to truckers during the last job action.

He told reporters at the protest n Madrid that the group did not want the strike “to last as long as it did” as the last time, and accused th government of seeking to “criminalise” their protests.

Soaring energy costs, exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, have worsened general price increases and generated social disconsent in many countries across Europe.

Inflation in Spain peaked this summer at 10.8 percent in July, its highest level in 38 years, before moderately slowing to 7.3 percent in October — still well above normal levels.