Truckers in several countries slowed traffic and blocked highways as they demanded a European Union directive on trucking industry working hours as part of a European day of action by truckers.
According to the Agence France Presse, the protest was organized by the European Transport Workers Federation and coincided with a EU transport ministers meeting later today. Truckers want EU transport ministers to adopt a 1998 directive proposed by the European Commission setting a 48-hour work week, averaged over four months.
Hundreds of truckers from many parts of Europe set up roadblocks last night at seven key border crossings in Belgium, France and Germany. Protestors handed out leaflets explaining the protest to private cars, which were allowed through the blockades. Trucks and buses not participating in the protest were turned away.
Unionized truck drivers slowed border traffic in Luxembourg earlier today. A Luxembourg police spokesman reported traffic backed up for miles at the French border.
European Transport Workers Federation spokesman Brenda O'Brien told AFP, "We know that many, many truckers drive 60 to 70 hours a week. That's simply too long from a health and safety point of view."
Meanwhile, French truckers blocked access to freight terminals in the Channel port of Calais.
According to AFP, about 15 drivers handed out leaflets explaining their grievances, which include a lack of infrastructure at the port and the levying of heavy fines for drivers caught with illegal immigrants on board.
Spanish truckers blocked the two main Franco-Spanish border crossings today to kick off the beginning of a new three-day protest over rising fuel prices. Several hundred truckers set up blockades during the night along the main cross-border rout near the Spanish town of Irun, bringing traffic to a complete halt.
In the northeast part of Spain, more than 2,000 trucks blocked the A-7 motorway, which was backed up about five miles, while further south, another 700 truckers barricaded the A-7 and access roads into Valencia, causing serious traffic problems.
The protest went ahead despite ongoing negotiations between truckers' associations and the government over ways of easing the impact of high fuel prices, said AFP.