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LIFE IN SPAIN

UPDATE: How the truck drivers’ strike is affecting life in Spain

Strike action by Spanish truck drivers has caused disruption across the country in recent weeks. With a government offer rejected by unions on Friday March 25th, here’s how the industrial action is affecting Spain as it looks set to continue into a third week.

UPDATE: How the truck drivers' strike is affecting life in Spain
A man looks at an empty stand of legumes and cereals on the shelves of a supermarket in Madrid. For the past two weeks, Spain has been gripped by unrest which began on March 14 when lorry drivers began an open-ended strike over mounting fuel prices, staging roadblocks and picket lines and leaving supermarkets with empty shelves and several sectors struggling to cope. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO / AFP)

As the Spanish truck drivers’ strike over fuel prices edges towards a third week, smaller unions this morning rejected an agreement made between the government and one of the larger national unions Comité Nacional de Transporte por Carretera.

However, this group does not represent the majority of the striking truck drivers and smaller union groups rejected the offer of a 20 percent fuel subsidy. On Friday morning the organisers of the strikes, Plataforma Nacional por la Defensa del Transporte, called for the resignation of Transport Minister Raquel Sánchez and demonstrated in Madrid.

The strike action has affected Spaniards across the country, and can be felt on its motorways and supermarket aisles. Much like how rolls of toilet paper were in short-supply during the pandemic, perishable goods such as cartons of milk have now become more difficult to get hold of during the strikes and are a symbol of the shortages.

The Spanish government, which has linked the protests to the far-right, has mobilised 24,000 police officers to manage the strike by escorting truck drivers who aren’t taking part in the strikes. Around 45 protesters have also been arrested. 

Here’s how the industrial action is affecting the consumer heading into the weekend:

Traffic

With truck drivers blocking key roads, ports, industrial areas and intersections with their vehicles, there have been reports of kilometre-long traffic jams in Madrid, the Valencia region, the Basque Country, Andalusia, Navarre, Galicia, Murcia and other parts of Spain. 

READ MORE: How soaring prices are fuelling growing social unrest in Spain

Food shortages

Supermarket shelves have been bare, with shortages of fruit and vegetables, milk, cheese, and other dairy products, and meat and fish in particular. The dairy sector has been severely affected, with thousands of litres of milk spoiling in factories as there’s nobody to transport them around the country. Flour and sunflower oil are also reportedly in short supply, and even sugar, pasta and rice can be hard to track down.

Bars and restaurants across Spain have also felt the effects of the strike action. Many have been forced to change or adapt their menus, or even put up their prices to recoup some of the losses.

Tap water

Northern Spain is at risk of running out of tap water in the coming days because a chemical used to make it drinkable isn’t being delivered to the treatment plants as a result of the trucker strike. If a solution isn’t found soon, José Luis Caravia, manager of Asturquimia (one of three companies in charge of managing tap water supplies in Spain) believes “the tap water supply should be interrupted and a health alert should be sent out” to the inhabitants of northern Spain that Asturquimia treats drinking water for.

Fuel shortages

The roadblocks made by truckers means that thousands of Spain’s petrol stations are struggling to get fuel deliveries on time. Spain’s automatic fuel station association Aesae on Monday warned that the haulier strike is now causing a shortage of petrol and diesel at gas stations in Andalusia, Murcia and the Valencia region in particular.

Building materials

The construction sector has also been affected. In Andalusia, employers have warned of a lack of concrete and there are already reports of construction projects being paused as a result of the strike in Cádiz and Seville.

Nursing homes

Nursing and care home workers have also complained of knock-on effects. It is reportedly becoming increasingly difficult for care homes in northern Spain – particularly Asturias – to receive specialist food deliveries necessary for the diets of their elderly and ill patients.

Timber

Hundreds of companies in the forestry and timber industry have also complained of late deliveries to compound the ongoing problems of rising fuel and energy prices they had been enduring.

Automotive industry

Buying a new car in Spain or getting a spare part is also being made harder by the transporters’ strike action.

Volkswagen and Ford as well as tire manufacturer Bridgestone have temporarily closed their factories in Spain as their production lines have been paralysed by hauliers’ picketing and roadblocks, whilst Opel and Mercedes have also been forced to reduce operations. 

Flowers

March is the month during which 70 percent of flowers are cut for the entire year. This year however, many flowers are sitting in cold storage when they should have been in shops and supermarkets across Spain long ago.

“The situation isn’t dramatic, it’s far worse than that,” the head of Andalucía’s cut flower association Luis Manuel Rivera told Spanish news site Nius Diario.

“The chambers are full after 5 days without even a single flower being taken out, so they will have to be thrown away. The same as with the flowers that are in the greenhouses that have to be collected, they should go to the storage chambers but instead they’ll have to go to be binned”.

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LIFE IN SPAIN

What to do about insects and other pests in your Spanish home?

Bugs and insects can sometimes be a problem in Spanish homes, particularly during the summer months. Here's what to do if you get an infestation and how to prevent them from happening.

What to do about insects and other pests in your Spanish home?

Fruit flies buzzing around the bins, cockroaches in the kitchen and ants invading your food cupboards can be a common sight in your Spanish home, more often than not in summer.

But what can you do when insects invade your home? 

What types of pests are common in Spain?

Bugs and insects that commonly invade homes in Spain include fruit flies, ants, stink bugs, cockroaches, pantry moths, plaster bagworms and mosquitoes.

Those who have pets may also have a problem with your animals bringing fleas and ticks into the home too.

READ ALSO: Ticks are proliferating in Spain: How to avoid them and protect yourself

These can cause a nuisance, not only flying around your home and biting you (in the case of mosquitoes, fleas and ticks), but they can get into your food and lay eggs in your cupboards.

How can I get rid of bugs in my home?

One of the most important ways you can keep insects and other bugs out of your home is to eliminate food sources.

This means always doing the washing up as soon as you’ve finished eating so there are no scraps laying around, sweeping kitchens and dining rooms regularly and putting opened food items in the fridge instead of the cupboards.

You also need to make sure you regularly empty your rubbish bin and that there are no gaps between the lid and the bin that flies can get in through.

Dusting, hoovering and general regular cleaning will also keep other insects at bay such as plaster bagworms and moths that lay larvae on your walls and ceiling.

Those with pets should make sure that animals are treated with flea and tick protection and combed through with special flea combs to make sure bugs are not stuck in their fur.

Summer can of course be very hot in Spain, with temperatures regularly in the high 30°Cs or even low 40°Cs in some parts of Andalusia and other regions, meaning that windows and doors are often left open to ensure a breeze. Unfortunately, this means that your home is more accessible to insects too.

If you can, get a fly screen for your doors and windows, so you can leave them open, but no bugs can get in. These fine mesh screens can be bought from hardware or home stores such as Leroy Merlin and can simply be lifted into place when you need them.

If you can’t get screens installed, then consider planting certain plants on windowsills or balconies. Lavender, basil, lemongrass and mint are all natural insect repellents.

Electric fly swats, ant traps and sticky paper can also all help eliminate pests in your home. 

READ ALSO: What venomous species are there in Spain?

Insecticides

When the situation becomes worse, simple everyday cleaning won’t suffice and you may need to use insecticides to kill the infestation. There are many different brands in Spain. Both Protect Home and Compo have several different products you can use.

If you don’t want to use chemical insecticides, natural ones made from white vinegar, citrus plants, or peppermint oil can also work.

Pest control

If the situation becomes completely out of control and you find that insects are not only entering your home but that they are breeding there too, it’s time to call in the professionals. Pest control services are available across Spain.

The first step is to check your home insurance to see if they will cover this service. If they won’t, they may be able to suggest a company that can help.

Otherwise, a quick Google search for ‘Control de plagas’ (pest control) and then your area should provide you with plenty of options.

According to the home website Habitissimo, pest control services in Spain can range from €80 up to €2,000 depending on the type of infestation you have, how serious the problem is and how big your property is. On average it will cost you around €267.

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