Spain trucker strike sparks supply chain tensions

An open-ended strike by some Spanish lorry drivers over mounting fuel prices has triggered supply chain problems in Spain, leaving several sectors struggling to cope, businesses said Thursday.

truck strikes
Truck strikes in Spain. Photo: ANDER GILLENEA / AFP

The strike called by a small truck driver union began on Monday, with protesters demanding action over the soaring cost of diesel they said was leaving them in a “catastrophic” situation.

By Wednesday, it had mushroomed into multiple roadblocks and protests, mainly in the country’s ports as well as industrial and commercial zones.

Spain’s main business lobby CEOE and CEPYME, which represents small and medium-sized enterprises, said such “violent and anti-democratic acts” were “causing serious harm to the supply chain in industry, business and the food sector”, all still struggling to recover from the coronavirus 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 said.

They demanded “urgent” government action to ease the impact of soaring prices on companies.

Spain’s national federation of dairy industries, FENIL, said the strike had forced several of its members to halt production.

Milk is a “primary food product which is perishable and… needs to be collected every day”, which can only be done with the “free circulation of trucks”, FENIL’s director Luis Calabozo told Spain’s RNE radio.

The government itself called for an end to the strike. “We are seeing acts of violence by a minority who are blocking other truckers working to ensure the supply of foodstuffs and other primary materials at a very difficult moment,” tweeted government spokeswoman Isabel

Transport Minister Raquel Sanchez said: “In a democratic country, we cannot allow violence and force to prevent people who want to work from working.”

Since the end of last year, there has been growing social discontent in Spain over runaway annual inflation, which jumped to 7.6 percent in February, its highest level in 35 years.

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

On Wednesday evening, the government said it was going to take steps to reduce the price of energy and fuel, but did not spell out how.

READ ALSO: Spanish government vows to lower energy prices

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez is on a European tour to lobby for a common EU response to soaring energy prices.

Madrid has for months urged its European partners to change the mechanism which couples electricity prices to the gas market, but its pleas have so far fallen on deaf ears, despite support from Paris.

Should Sánchez’s mission fail, Madrid will adopt its own measures to ease the situation.

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Ryanair strike in Spain: 54 flights cancelled and 300 delayed on Thursday

Fifty-four Ryanair flights to and from Spain were cancelled on Thursday and several hundred others delayed during an ongoing strike by the low-cost airline’s cabin staff.

Ryanair strike in Spain: 54 flights cancelled and 300 delayed on Thursday

The strike which took place as European schools were breaking up for the summer was the latest stoppage by European airline staff demanding better conditions.

By 8:00 pm (1800 GMT), 54 flights had been cancelled and more than 300 delayed, with the airports in Barcelona and Malaga worst-hit, the USO union said.

Although Ryanair had said all scheduled flights would be operating, the airline “had not called in the full crew” at certain airports.

“The crew members that were not called in have joined the strike while those that were, went to the airports.. but there were not enough of them to operate the flights,” it said.

The strike by Ryanair cabin crew in Spain, where there are some 1,900 employees, is affecting 10 of the airline bases in the country and is due to run until July 2nd.

Earlier, the airline said flight disruption through the strike was “minimal” and only affected three percent of its Spanish flights.

The employees, who are demanding better working conditions, began an initial three-day strike on June 24 during which 129 Spanish flights were cancelled, the union said.

USO union representative Ernesto Iglesias (C) talks to the press during a Ryanair employees strike at Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas airport Madrid on June 24, 2022. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

Ryanair is the airline that transports the most passengers in the Spanish market, offering more than 650 routes to 27 airports, the company says.

The initial strike in Spain coincided with industrial action by the airline’s staff in Portugal, Belgium, Italy and France demanding respect for labour rights and higher wages.

On Friday, staff with rival low-cost airline EasyJet will also be striking for the first of three weekends in July demanding parity in working conditions in line with other European airlines.

READ ALSO: What are your rights if flights are delayed or cancelled?