Fuel crisis affects truckers worldwide

| Friday, June 13, 2008

In recent days, two truckers have died in massive fuel protests in Europe, including one driver from Spain, who was run over by a van as he, and others, tried to block traffic at a market in Granada.

A driver from Portugal was killed earlier when he was run over by a truck at a roadblock protesters had set up.

The newspaper El Mundo reports that five trucks caught fire – or were deliberately set on fire – in San Isidro in eastern Spain. A trucker who was in his sleeper berth was seriously burned.

Truckers in South Korea and Thailand are also protesting high fuel prices. In South Korea, demonstrators have paralyzed some of the country’s biggest ports as they demand guaranteed minimum wages.

In Thailand, thousands of truckers are striking because fuel prices have skyrocketed, but the trucking companies they drive for can’t increase their wages without government permission.

Meanwhile, in Britain, more than 600 tanker truck drivers who work for Shell went on strike today—demanding a share of the oil company’s increasing profits.

And in Argentina, truckers who haul agricultural products are on strike because a separate strike by farmers has cut into their business.

In Spain, police in riot gear have cleared blockades set up by two striking truckers’ unions and have made at least 71 arrests.

Police were also providing escorts for thousands of other union truckers who were not participating in the four-day-long strike.

The Associated Press reported the strike organizers have vowed to fight on—and have rejected a government offer of tax relief and other measures to offset soaring fuel prices.

Unions representing most of the truckers in Spain signed the agreement, but the two unions waging the strike are sticking with their demand for minimum, guaranteed rates that include fuel adjustments.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reports that truckers are protesting in Hong Kong, India, Scotland and France with slow-moving convoys and that truckers in Malaysia have voted to go on strike if their demands aren’t met.

In each country, the protesting truckers are seeking higher freight rates, a fuel surcharge or both.

Staff Writer Reed Black contributed to this report.

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