Unrest is stoking in Europe with Spain sending more than 23,000 officers to Spain’s truckers strike on Friday, and France and Greece blocking traffic as a result.
Russia’s war against Ukraine has pushed up oil and natural gas prices in Europe. This has driven record inflation and made it more difficult for farmers and truckers fuelling their vehicles, buying fertilizer, and keeping up with other costs. The war has exacerbated a energy shortage in Europe that has caused a rise in costs for both households and businesses.
A group of mostly self-employed Spanish truckers quit their job days ago due to high fuel prices. The dispute has turned into an attack on the drivers, who continue to work. Helicopters and police in patrol cars escorted trucks along the highways, and pickedeters were stopped Friday. This was to ensure that cement and dairy products continue to move as some sectors had reported shortages on the fifth day.
National media reported that picketers set fire to tires on a highway in northern Spain overnight. According to the Interior Ministry, police have taken six people into custody and are currently investigating 34 more. Striking truckers were also accused of throwing rocks at trucks still operating this week, ripping cargo tarps, puncturing truck tire and intimidating drivers with violence.
France has witnessed scattered protests against rising fuel prices this week. A convoy of 20 farmers riding their tractors in western Brittany protested Friday. They drove slowly down a highway, blocking a traffic circle and creating tailbacks to draw attention.
French road haulers and fishermen have recently set up temporary barricades using their vehicles to block roads.
Truckers drove through Berlin and other German towns Friday, honking their horns to protest high fuel prices.
In central Athens, hundreds of farmers protested and blocked trafficfi C to demand additional concessions from the government to help them cope with rising energy costs. Protesters, some riding tractors, held up vegetables and black flags and marched to the Farm Ministry.
Spain’s government reiterated its claim that far-right sympathizers incite the strike. Maria Jesus Montero, Finance Minister, stated to reporters that the walkout amounts “extortion” and that the far-right exploits it to stop food and produce being distributed.
Far-right links are denied by striking truckers. They released a statement on Thursday evening on their website denying any links to far-right groups.
According to the Platform for the Defense of the Road Transport Sector (or the strike), it was created spontaneously in 2008. According to its website, it was founded by six truckers from Spain’s northwest Galicia who disapproved of national trucking associations.
It is not affiliated to larger national trucking organizations or road haulage firms and does not participate in the sector’s negotiations with the government. It did not respond immediately to a question regarding how many members it had.
However, self-employed truckers are using the strike to show their economic strength and to press the government to comply with their demands on a variety of issues. Cement, mining, and dairy businesses are among those who are warning of low stocks or difficulty distributing their products.
Luis Planas, Farm Minister, stated that “the provision of food and basic services are not an trivial matter.” It’s a constitutional matter that has to do with freedom and movement.
Truckers who are self-employed claim that the amount they get to haul loads is not enough to cover rising fuel costs. They claim large distribution companies are unfairly competing, lowering freight prices, and they demand better working conditions.
According to the Spanish government, it will take measures against rising fuel and energy prices in the next month. This is similar to what other European governments have done. Rising energy prices are fueling rising consumer prices.
This unrest occurs as the Prime Ministers of Spain Portugal Italy Greece and Portugal met Friday to demand an urgent European Union response to the Energy Crisis. The request will be made at next week’s European Council meeting.
The Spanish government stated that it will not take further action on energy prices until Europe has agreed to.