Spanish Truckers Hold Strike Over Energy Prices

Spanish truckers unions rejected a government aid package and joined a spontaneous one-week strike against rising fuel prices. causing prominent disruptions across the supply chain throughout the country on Tuesday.

On Monday, Spain’s government agreed to pay 500 million euros (approximately $551 million) as an assistance package to the transport sector, in hopes of ending the strike. However, the three trucker unions decided to continue, claiming that the assistance was insufficient to compensate for the soaring price of diesel.

By Wednesday, the strike had expanded into multiple roadblocks and protests, especially around the country’s ports, and the industrial and commercial areas.

The Spanish Confederation of Business Organizations (CEOE) and the Spanish Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (CEPYME) said such ‘violent and anti-democratic acts’ were ‘causing serious harm to the supply chain in the industry, business, and the food sector. Both business associations are still struggling to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This situation only exacerbates the difficulties facing Spanish firms across the board… due to out-of-control energy costs, which have been worsened by the conflict in Ukraine”, they added.

CEOE and CEPYME have demanded ‘urgent’ government action to ease the impact of soaring prices on companies.

Since the end of last year, there has been growing social unrest in Spain over runaway annual inflation, which reached 7.6% in February, the highest level in 35 years.

The crisis has prompted Spain’s two largest unions, the UGT and the CCOO, to call a national strike on March 23, while the far-right Vox party has urged people to join nationwide protests on Saturday.

On Wednesday evening, the government stated that it will take steps to reduce energy and fuel prices but did not specify how. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is currently on a European tour to advocate for a coordinated EU response to rising energy prices.

Madrid has been pleading with its European partners for months to change the mechanism that links electricity prices to the gas market, but its pleas have ‘fallen on deaf ears, despite Paris’ support.

Should Sánchez’s mission fail, Madrid has said that it will take steps to alleviate the situation.

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