Expatica news

Riot police clear striking French fishermen

29 May 2008

PARIS – French Riot police cleared striking fishermen from several oil depots on Thursday as fleets in Italy, Spain and Portugal prepared to join Europe-wide protests over fuel prices.

Police launched special dawn operations to move fishermen away from oil depots at Fos-sur-Mer and Lavera and a refinery in La Mede on the Mediterranean coast which faced blockades for the past three weeks, union officials said.

While many French fleets have called off their action, many ports are still going through angry protests.

In Lorient, Brittany, fishermen cordoned off the port with burning tyres and wood crates, and set adrift a trawler which had to be towed back to shore.

Fishermen briefly blocked access to two oil depots in Caen overnight and set up a roadblock on the city ring road. Farmers blocked oil depots in the southwestern city of Toulouse and Dijon in the east.

Fishermen and truck drivers have been in the vanguard of a wave of protests across western Europe over rising fuel costs, as oil prices hit a global record of over USD 130 a barrel.

Italy’s main fishing union, Federcoopesca, said it was joining in an open-ended strike along with the Spanish and Portuguese starting Friday.

Spain’s main fisheries industry association has called for an indefinite national strike from Friday to coincide with a mass protest in Madrid to demand compensation for the rising cost of fuel.

Portuguese fishermen say they are joining the action to force the government to give aid which they say competitors in France and Spain receive.

In Bulgaria, 150 truck drivers staged a similar protest around the capital, Sofia Wednesday. And the country’s bus companies plan a one-hour stoppage on Friday.

The politicians meanwhile, were struggling to agree a solution to the crisis.

Following a request Wednesday from Portugal for an urgent debate, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa said that he would put soaring oil and food prices on the agenda of an EU summit on 19-20 June.

In Italy, new Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti said that he would hold a "round table" with consumers and producers in the coming days about soaring prices and what can be done.

[AFP / Expatica]