An indefinite strike by some Spanish truck drivers over rising fuel prices has triggered supply chain problems across the country, leaving several sectors struggling to cope, business associations have said. Spain’s Guardia Civil have been called out to guarantee the transportation of essential services in some areas [see video in Tweet below].
The strike that was called by a minor truck driver union started on Monday, with protestors demanding action over the soaring cost of diesel which they said was leaving them in a ‘catastrophic’ situation.
By Wednesday, the strike had grown into multiple roadblocks and protests, especially around the country’s ports, as well as industrial and commercial areas.
Spain’s main business associations, CEOE and CEPYME, that represent small and medium-sized enterprises, said such ‘violent and anti-democratic acts’ were ‘causing serious harm to the supply chain in industry, business and the food sector’, all still struggling to recover from the Coronavirus pandemic.
‘This situation only exacerbates the difficulties facing Spanish firms across the board … due to out-of-control energy costs, which have been worsened by the conflict in Ukraine’, they said.
They have demanded ‘urgent’ government action to ease the impact of soaring prices on companies.
Spain’s national federation of dairy industries, FENIL, also said the strike had forced several of its members to halt production.
Milk is a ‘primary food product which is perishable and … needs to be collected every day’, which can only be done with the ‘free circulation of trucks’, FENIL’s director Luis Calabozo told Spain’s RNE radio.
The government itself called for an end to the strike. ‘We are seeing acts of violence by a minority who are blocking other truckers working to ensure the supply of foodstuffs and other primary materials at a very difficult moment,’ tweeted government spokeswoman Isabel Rodríguez.
Transport Minister Raquel Sánchez said: ‘In a democratic country, we cannot allow violence and force to prevent people who want to work from working.’
‘We are not talking about a strike or a lockout,’ the minister said. ‘Those who legitimately represent the interests of the sector do not support this boycott. Minority groups supported by the extreme right cannot substitute words for stones.’
Since the end of last year, there has been growing social discontent in Spain over runaway annual inflation, which jumped to 7.6% in February, its highest level in 35 years.
The crisis has prompted the UGT and the CCOO, Spain’s two biggest unions, to call a national strike on 23 March, whilst the far-right Vox party has urged people to join nationwide protests on Saturday.
On Wednesday evening, the government said it was going to take steps to reduce the price of energy and fuel, but did not spell out how. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is currently on a European tour to lobby for a common EU response to soaring energy prices.
Madrid has for months urged its European partners to change the mechanism which couples electricity prices to the gas market, but its pleas have so far fallen on deaf ears, despite support from Paris. Should Sánchez’s mission fail, Madrid has said that it will adopt its own measures to ease the situation. ALSO READ: Spain vows to lower energy prices by 29 March, with or without EU consensus.
Vehículos de la @guardiacivil escoltan un convoy de camiones en la A-45, en el término municipal de Benamejí #Córdoba, dentro de las actuaciones que realizan las Fuerzas y Cuerpos de Seguridad para garantizar el transporte de mercancías en las carreteras españolas pic.twitter.com/atlQynX9Ac— Ministerio del Interior (@interiorgob) March 17, 2022