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Portugal orders truck drivers back to work as airports run out of fuel

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Portugal orders truck drivers back to work as airports run out of fuel
FILE PHOTO: A plane takes off at Lisbon airport, Portugal July 5, 2018. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante/File Photo   -   Copyright  Rafael Marchante(Reuters)
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LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal’s government has ordered fuel truck drivers to return to work immediately after a major strike threatened to leave the country’s main airports without fuel just before the busy Easter tourist period.

Demanding better workers’ rights, fuel truck drivers started a strike on Monday but guaranteed the operation of minimum services. According to the Socialist government, however, the minimum service has not been provided.

In Faro, one of the country’s biggest tourist hubs, the airport resorted to emergency fuel reserves. Lisbon airport has also been affected.

“At both airports, where fuel supply wasn’t ensured, we have reached critical levels of fuel reserves for aircraft refuelling,” Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira told reporters.

The government said in a statement that the strike was also affecting fire stations, ports, public transport companies and gas stations.

“I want to ask drivers to comply with the law and with the determined minimum services required,” Siza Vieira said, explaining the decree passed ordering drivers to return to work.

According to the minister, there could be flight cancellations in the next few hours if supplies are not resumed.

Airport authority ANA is monitoring the situation and has asked passengers travelling from Lisbon or Faro to check their flight status with airlines.

Fuel company Prio, which operates in Portugal, told news agency Lusa that it expects almost half its stations to run out of gas or diesel by the end of the day.

“This could aggravate if the truckers’ union does not advise its members to comply with the order issued by the government to fulfil the minimum services to supply stations,” Prio said in a statement.

The National Union of Dangerous Goods Drivers said the strike will continue until their demands are met.

(Reporting by Catarina Demony,; Editing by Axel Bugge and Ed Osmond)

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