Portugal police drive trucks as fuel strike bites

Policeman driving tanker truck, 12 Aug 19Image copyright

Image caption

One of the policemen drafted in to drive tanker trucks

Police and soldiers are driving fuel tankers in Portugal to counter the impact of a strike by tanker drivers, now in its second day.

The government issued an emergency decree called “civil requisition”, meaning the strikers can be prosecuted and face up to two years in jail.

At least 14 tankers driven by soldiers left the Sines refinery for the Algarve, where petrol stations are running dry at a peak time for tourism.

Petrol rationing is now in force too.

Motorists are restricted to 15 litres (3.3 gallons) maximum of petrol or diesel per filling, Reuters news agency reports.

Image copyright

Image caption

A tanker passes a picket line at a fuel depot in Aveiras de Cima

The tanker drivers are pushing for a pay rise and better working conditions, saying outstanding issues were not resolved after they went on strike in April.

The Socialist government of António Costa warned on Friday of an “energy crisis” and moved to stockpile fuel supplies for essential services.

The indefinite strike is now “restricting operations” at Lisbon airport, the airport authority ANA said.

Cabinet Secretary of State Tiago Antunes, quoted by Reuters, said only 25 out of a planned 119 cargoes of fuel had reached the airport on Monday.

Union representative Pedro Pardal Henriques told broadcaster RTP the drivers would continue to provide “minimum services”.

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