Wildcat strikers ‘set other truckers lorries ablaze’
20 October 2005
BARCELONA — Thirteen lorries were set on fire by flying pickets who refuse to stop a national strike by truckers.
Six lorries were set ablaze in Huesca in north-east Spain and another seven in Navarra in the north-west and Tarragona near Barcelona.
In many cases, drivers were sleeping in their cabins when their lorries were set on fire.
One driver José Gil said: “No-one gave us any warning. We could have been suffocated by the smoke while we slept in our cabins.”
Sources from the Spanish Confederation of Transport said the lorries belonged to members of their organisation which has called off the strike which began on Monday.
The National Association of Vehicle Carriers said they were not ending the strike, but condemned the arson attacks as “sabotage by wildcat strikers”.
At least 2,000 workers, who are members of the National Federation of Associations of Transport Workers, have decided to carry n the strike, rejecting a deal reached between truckers, shippers and the government.
The two-day strike, which was starting to produce shortages at markets and businesses, when they reached a final agreement with shippers and struck a deal with the Spanish government.
The striking truckers and the shippers – their principle customers – agreed that the increased cost of diesel fuel would be passed on to customers, that shipping charges would automatically increase with the cost of the fuel and that drivers would be barred from loading and unloading merchandise.
The strike started in the regions of Galicia and Asturias, in northern Spain, and forced some businesses to close.
The conflicting demands of truckers and shippers were the last obstacle to calling off the strike.
But a deal was reached when the strikers reached a compromise with the government regarding a problem directly caused by the fuel hikes.
The strikers and the Spanish Economy and Treasury Ministry signed a final agreement on the “health centime,” a surcharge Spain’s autonomous regions may impose on truckers in the form of a tax on retail fuel sales.
The tax of 2.4 centimes (2.9 cents) per litre of fuel entailed an addition cost of almost EUR 700 million to the truckers.
Ministry representatives pledged to enable the regions, both the ones that impose the tax now – Madrid, Asturias, Galicia and Catalonia – and those that may do so in the future, to “exempt professional trucking” from 2006.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news