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Fuel Protests Continue Around the Globe

September 19, 2000

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The fuel price protests that have been sweeping across Europe continue to spread, with varying degrees of success.

Truckers and farmers in Sweden and Spain blocked transit to harbors, rail terminals and fuel depots to protest high fuel prices earlier today, Finnish truckers won a tax cut, and Israili truckers slowed traffic on highways, while Canadian truckers prepare for a possible strike later this week.
According to Associated Press reports, protests were expected to continue throughout the day today in Spain, with demonstrations in 34 provinces.
Road traffic to harbors and rail freight terminals was hampered by Swedish truckers, as the protests held up ordinary freight from entering cruise ship companies in Stockholm. However, the AP said that passengers and urgent transport were allowed to board and depart the ships normally.
The immediate threat of gas lines, hoarding and commuter delay subsided when truckers eventually withdrew from the oil harbors in Stockholm and Goteborg.
In Finland today, the government announced a cut in road taxes for truckers after drivers sporadically blocked traffic on highways in southern and central parts of the country last Sunday. However, Finnish truckers said a tax cut was not enough.
''It's a step in the right direction, but it's not enough. It's really peanuts,'' said Juha Norppa-Rahkola of the Finnish Trucking Association.
Truckers in Israel inched along highways leading to Tel Aviv today in a slowdown to protest fuel prices, but did not cause any major traffic problems. The truckers orchestrated the slowdown to try to force the government to roll back a 13 percent rise in diesel fuel prices that went into effect Saturday in response to rising fuel prices worldwide, the AP reported.
Meanwhile, in Canada, an Ottawa truckers group says the National Truckers Association is sending the wrong message by insisting that cuts in fuel taxes will alleviate their problems.
The Ottawa Citizen reported that Ontario members of the association, which represents about 5,000 independent truckers across Canada, have threatened to abandon their rigs on Friday unless the province does something about the skyrocketing cost of fuel.
According to Dwayne Mosley, general manager of the Greater Ottawa Truckers Association, the national body's tactics are misguided and won't likely result in any significant changes.
A spokesman for Al Palladini, the province's economic development and trade minister, told the paper that the minister has been organizing meetings with various federal and provincial departments over the next few days, in hopes that a solution can be found before the Friday strike deadline.

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