Israel: Fuel Protest Spreads : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread


Tuesday September 19 11:20 AM ET Europe-Wide Fuel Protest Spreads to Israel

LONDON (Reuters) - Farmers, truckers and fishermen launched fuel protests from the North Sea to the Mediterranean on Tuesday with crude oil prices close to 10-year highs.

Demonstrations spread to Israel, where truckers mounted a ''go-slow'' along the main north-south road linking the ports of Haifa and Ashdod.

Crude prices saw 10-year peaks on Monday, a level not seen since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. On Tuesday, November Brent dipped 19 cents to trade at $36.69.

An estimated 100,000 farmers drove tractors through Madrid and dozens of other Spanish cities, warning of more aggressive action if talks with the government fail.

Spain's biggest farming associations COAG and ASAJA warned they could bring the country to a standstill if there were no agreement to compensate them for higher fuel costs by October.

``We are the first ants of the October we'll cut off roads wherever we have to in order to reach our objective,'' Manuel Carlon, head of COAG in Madrid, told a rally.

The national fuel distribution company CLH said access to five of its centers in the cities of Leon, Rota, Cartagena, Burgos and Girona were blocked by demonstrators, but that there were no fuel supply problems.

One of the biggest demonstrations was in Seville where about 4,000 tractors blocked all the main access routes to the southern city. The blockades were due to end later in the day.

Fishing Protest

In Barcelona, a blockade by fishing boats of the country's biggest port ended early on Tuesday. But fishermen have warned of more protests if negotiations stall, state radio reported.

Fishermen in the eastern port of Castellon had blocked the mouth of the port, the radio said.

Protests have also been called by fishermen in Huelva, on Spain's southern Atlantic coast. Demonstrations by taxi drivers and other transport workers have been set for next week.

German truckers and farmers held up traffic in protests at high oil prices on Tuesday, but there was little sign the government was about to yield to demands to slash fuel taxes.

Police said about 300 trucks, taxis and buses, blowing their horns in unison, circled Hamburg's inner ring road in the latest in a series of actions across the country in the past week that have coincided with protests elsewhere in Europe.

``We will not allow ourselves to be taxed into the abyss,'' read one slogan on a truck in the northern port city.

In Israel, Gabi Ben-Haroush, chief of the Haulers and Drivers Council, said truckers could widen their protest on Wednesday and the go-slow was only a ``warning shot.''

``We are making preparations for every possibility,'' said David Sadeh, deputy chief of Israel's traffic police.

Far to the north, dozens of Swedish truck drivers blocked goods terminals in the North Sea port of Gothenburg, police said, as protests continued against high taxes on diesel fuel.

A blockade of Sweden's oil terminals was lifted on Monday night amid fears that petrol stations would run dry.

Blockade Hits Swedish Ports

Gothenburg, Sweden's second-largest city, reported the greatest disruption on Tuesday, but blockades of terminals in the Malmo and Stockholm ports continued. Swedish media also reported trucks blocking access to Swedish Railway's goods terminals and a blockade of ferry terminals in Stockholm.

The truckers want government to scrap a planned tax increase of 0.10 crowns and to cut the present tax by 1.12 crowns.

The price of diesel in Sweden was 9.23 crowns ($0.938) of which 56 percent is tax, the Swedish Petroleum Institute said.

Although British protests were called off last week, Prime Minister Tony Blair (news - web sites)'s Labor government was hit by new evidence of a drop in popularity when an opinion poll put the opposition Conservatives four points ahead.

The ICM poll in the Guardian newspaper gave the opposition Conservatives a four point lead over Labour's 34 percent. Labour's popularity has slumped 10 points in a month.

Petrol costs about 80 pence ($1.13) a liter in Britain.

The British government sought to head off petrol panic-buying by motorists on Tuesday, saying no oil refineries were blockaded and rumors of new fuel protests were unfounded.

Queues of cars formed at petrol stations in southern England and Wales because of unconfirmed reports that truckers and farmers were resuming fuel blockades.

In Ireland, most of the country's fishermen turned back to shore in a 24-hour-long protest against high fuel prices.

In Brussels, European Union energy chief Loyola de Palacio said governments would be playing into oil producers' hands if they cut energy taxes.

-- Rachel Gibson (, September 19, 2000


To me it's just amazing how entire countries can shoot themselves in the foot.

-- Uncle Fred (, September 20, 2000.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ