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Aussie Truckers Kick Off Fuel Protests While Others Continue in Europe

September 25, 2000

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Truck drivers down under jumped on the fuel protest bandwagon today, while truckers in Spain and Greece held their own in the fight against high fuel prices.

Aussie truckers kicked off the first protests targeting rising fuel prices when they blocked three fuel depots today in Melbourne. They were joined in the protests by Australian farmers. According to Associated Press reports, New South Wales Farmers' Association president John Cobb said farmers were increasingly angry at the high cost of fuel and are planning on demonstrating outside federal parliament next week.
Both the truckers and farmers have their work cut out for them. Prime Minister John Howard has said he will not give in to the protestors.
"Now it is a difficult issue, but it won't be solved by people imposing blockades," he told a Sydney radio station. "You can't run a country on the basis of responding to threats of blockades."
Meanwhile, in Europe, Spain's commercial drivers and fishermen continued their protests against high fuel prices today, as a government minister prepared to meet farmers' and fishermen's leaders to try to find a way out of the dispute.
According to the Agence France Presse, truckers' leaders from several road haulage associations have also threatened to stage a general strike next Monday if the government does not grant them the concessions they are demanding.
About 100 truckers and taxi drivers staged a go-slow on motorways early this morning around Madrid, while fisherman maintained their blockades of several ports and markets.
Greek truckers declared an open-ended strike today of their own as well. The federation of Greek truck drivers said the strike had taken 7,000 fuel tanker trucks off the road, cutting supplies to many of the nation's petrol stations.
Reports from the AFP said that 7,000 international transporters, 300,000 domestic haulers and thousands of smaller freight carriers have also been affected, according to Cornelia Anguelidis, head of the Greek Federation of Road Haulers.
The recent sharp rise in oil prices has left the haulers with "no profits and no incentive to work," she told AFP.
“The government had promised to intervene to hold down oil prices but nothing has been done,” she added.
Costas Kartanos, president of the Union of Petrol Stations, told the AFP that filling stations were expected to begin running dry by Friday if the strike continues.
Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis made an appeal saying his government would “use all available means to control prices and protect consumers,” but added that speculators would be “severely punished.”
Similar but more widespread protests crippled France and Britain earlier this month. France, the Netherlands and Italy this month cut taxes on diesel fuel. Britain refused to do so, while other countries, such as Belgium, made other concessions instead.

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