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Belgium blockades threated over petrol prices

Belgium blockades threated over petrol prices
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Petrol price protests are spreading in Europe. One day after a British group threatened to blockade refineries, Belgian taxi and lorry drivers are pleading with their government to reduce the fuel tax burden. Some industrial workers have already held demonstrations. They briefly closed a motorway and access to oil terminals at the port of Liege.

The lorry drivers union UPTR is threatening strike action and blockades from Monday unless the government does something. Jean Claude Schmit, their vice president, said: “We are willing to talk about calling off the blockades, but we want concrete action and a drastic cut in prices. If they don’t meet our demands, we’ve made it clear we’ll repeat the blockades we carried out in September 2000, but it will be worse this time because there are more people who are fed up with these petrol price hikes.”

Feelings are running high, a Belgian motorists organisation has collected 100,000 signatures on a petition to be handed to the government as it discusses what to do, and various trade unions are threatening action. But the EU has warned member states against taking unilateral steps to cut fuel taxes. The European Commission said that could trigger more demands.