Portuguese Truckers Strike for Second Day, Squeezing Gas Supply

(Bloomberg) --

A truck drivers’ strike entered its second day with few motorists lining up at gas stations after Portugal’s government issued a civil order to guarantee that enough fuel is delivered to airports and gas pumps at the height of the tourist season.

“Everything is normal, we’re complying with the minimum services,” Manuel Mendes, a truck driver outside the Matosinhos refinery in northern Portugal, said in comments broadcast by SIC Noticias television station.

Portuguese Truckers Strike for Second Day, Squeezing Gas Supply

In the run-up to the strike, the government declared an energy emergency and demanded truckers maintain 50% of fuel deliveries to gas stations and 100% to airports. It also set limits on refueling at gas stations at 25 liters for light vehicles and 100 liters for trucks.

Still, at 9:30 a.m. local time, about a third of Portugal’s almost 3,000 petrol stations were partially or totally out of fuel, according to Ja Nao Da Para Abastecer website, which tracks data on the number of gas pumps in the country. The southern Algarve region, a popular European vacation destination, has been the most affected area by the strike, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said on Monday.

The strike began at midnight on Monday to protest against low wages. Unions representing the truck drivers are demanding an increase in their basic pay to 900 euros ($1,007) a month by 2022 from 630 euros a month today.

Similar industrial action in April led to fuel shortages across the country. It ended after four days but talks about possible salary increases later broke down, prompting unions to call this week’s strike for an indefinite period.

The strike also takes place less than two months before a general election scheduled for Oct. 6, with the governing Socialist party ahead by 15.2 percentage points of the center-right Social Democrats, the main opposition party, according to a survey published by TVI television channel on July 30.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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