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Striking Spanish truckers block border with France Associated Press
October 02, 2000
MADRID, Spain (AP) - Spanish truckers blocked border crossings with France on Monday as they launched a three-day strike to press for cheaper diesel fuel and higher rates they charge for hauling goods.
The protesters shut down frontier posts in La Junquera in Gerona province and the Basque town of Irun.
Hundreds of trucks also clogged a highway around Valencia, Spain's third-largest city, although Madrid and Barcelona were free of such disturbances, news reports said.
FENADISMER, a trucking federation taking part in the strike, said there were no plans to paralyze the Spanish road network and that any such actions were wildcat protests by truckers acting on their own.
The strike began as the government mediated talks over a separate haulage rate dispute between the truckers and companies whose goods they haul.
The government has offered compensation falling short of the fuel-tax cut that the truckers want.
But FENADISMER is insisting on a fuel-tax cut. The group, representing 32,000 small- and medium-size trucking firms, says its members would stay on strike even if a deal with those companies is reached.
But a bigger trucking federation known as CETM said it would drop the strike and accept the government offer if the haulage rate dispute is settled.
The government last week reached accords with farmers and fishermen who were also angry over rising fuel prices. Farmers using government-subsidized diesel fuel say their costs have gone up 55 percent this year.
But in both cases, the concessions avoided a fuel-tax cut and offered instead income- and value-added tax concessions, soft loans and reductions in payroll tax contributions.
Some farmers and fishermen rejected the offer and have pledged to continue protests.
Protests over fuel prices began in France last month and spread to other European Union nations, most recently Spain.
While France ceded some tax cuts, Germany, Britain and Spain have remained steadfastly opposed to lowering taxes.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), October 02, 2000