As fuel prices continue to rise, so does the anger among European truckers. The latest round of protests has seen Spanish lorry drivers blocking the border between France as they begin an indefinite strike. Yesterday their government offered an aid package for the industry but it was immediately rejected.
In Madrid, people have been stocking up with basics as the latest action threatens to leave supermarket shelves empty within days. At the Spanish capital’s central food market, Mercamadrid, the unloading bays stood idle this morning. “No trucks arrived at the market today so we can only sell what was already in stock. We haven’t received any fresh supplies,” said one trader.
But the action is not unanimous. Some truckers’ unions oppose it and at the Basque border between France and Spain there were angry scenes as a few drivers tried to break the blockade.
There was also evidence that lorries had been damaged, windscreens smashed and tyres slashed. One Portuguese driver described how, on arriving at the French border, police began diverting heavy goods vehicles. Then, he said, Spanish drivers began blocking his truck with their own, hurling stones and damaging his vehicle.
Meanwhile other Portuguese truckers stopped work at midnight, to call for mediation over the crisis. Like other fuel-reliant industries, hauliers want governments to subsidise fuel prices.
But Brussels warns that would break EU law and says it would not provide a long-term solution.