– Jerome Cordier, spokesman for Unostra, France’s union of trucking companies: “Recent protests mark a new phase of coordinated strikes across Europe.”
– Nepali communists organize protests against high fuel prices in Kathmandu– Argentine truckers stage sympathy strike for farmers engaged in three-month standoff with government, paralyze distribution to urban centers
– Flooding in US Corn Belt wipes out 2008 harvest
The double-pronged global food-fuel crisis is providing the Moscow Leninists and the Western internationalists with a pretext for global dictatorship. According to Bible prophecy, however, the man to fill that role of world dictator will emerge from Western Europe. On Wednesday Russian “President” Dmitry Medvedev declared: “We will work with whatever US administration appears, if only because our country’s responsibility in maintaining world order, peace and stability on the planet is colossal. We are counting on a constructive and friendly dialogue with whatever administration comes to power.”
In Spain this week a five-day self-employed truckers’ strike that targetted high fuel costs produced international ramifications, paralyzing highway traffic in both Spain and France, shutting down automobile manufacturers in Spain, Germany, and Belgium, forcing the Lisbon airport in Portugal to refuse refuelling requests from airliners, emptying Spanish supermarket shelves of produce, and resulting in the deaths of one striker in Portugal and two in Spain, all of whom were run over by vehicles on the picket lines. Pictured above: Spanish police break up a picket of striking Spanish truckers in Iznalloz, near Granada, on June 11, 2008.
Truckers in France, the Netherlands, and Poland also staged strikes this week, while British tanker drivers began a four-day road blockade today. Transport workers in Asia, including South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, India, and Nepal are also protesting high fuel costs.
Global fuel protests escalate, with auto plants and airlines hit
June 11, 2008
MADRID (AFP) — Auto plants in Spain were paralysed and Portugal’s main airport banned planes from refueling Wednesday as a third day of strikes by thousands of truckers caused heightened chaos and shortages.
Truckers in Thailand also threatened to strike next week while their counterparts in South Korea plan to stop work on Friday, as the outrage over soaring fuel prices intensified around the world.
Tens of thousands of truck drivers launched stoppages in France, Portugal and Spain on Monday to demand government help to cope with the rising price of fuel caused by rocketing oil prices, which last week reached almost 140 dollars a barrel.
The protests have paralysed roads, causing huge tailbacks, notably on the French-Spanish border and around major Spanish cities, and left supermarkets short of fresh produce and some petrol stations without supplies. Two strikers were run over by vehicles and killed at picket lines on Tuesday.
The Spanish auto plants of Seat, Nissan, Renault, PSA Peugeot Citroen and Mercedes Benz said they had cut or halted production as the strike left them short of parts.
In Belgium, the Volvo and Audi auto plants said they would be forced to close from Thursday due to the strike in Spain.
In Portugal, the strike hit air transport as fuel shortages forced authorities at Lisbon airport to ban planes from refuelling, except those on high priority flights.
“We cannot refuel any planes, except those on urgent, military or state flights,” a spokesman for the airport authority, Rui Oliveira, told Lusa news agency.
The European Commission on Wednesday called on EU nations to take targeted action to help those most vulnerable deal with high oil prices.
The commission, the EU’s executive body, said the measures should focus on the fishing, farm and transport sectors, as well as the chemical and auto industries.
In Spain, road haulage unions resumed negotiations with the government that were suspended on Tuesday after a truck driver was run over and killed by a van as he manned a picket line in the southern city of Granada.
Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba promised to guarantee deliveries of food, fuel, medicines and spare parts for auto plants, under police escort if necessary.
Portuguese police stepped up patrols after a striker manning a picket line north of Lisbon was run over and killed by a lorry on Tuesday.
Police escorted about 40 oil trucks to petrol stations around Lisbon and the western town of Setubal. Strikers had prevented the trucks from leaving a warehouse north of the capital.
Long queues formed at many petrol stations, some of which were out of supplies.
The Portuguese truckers vowed to step up their blockades Wednesday, particularly in the north of the country, where they plan to seal off the port of Leixos as well as supermarket warehouses.
Several supermarket chains have already expressed concern over the shortage of fresh products, especially milk.
In Spain too, the blocked roads meant wholesale food markets in large cities suffered shortages of fresh fish, milk, fruits and vegetables.
Truckers also maintained a blockade of a motorway across the French-Spanish border by the western town of Biriatou. On the French side, traffic jams were reported up to the western port of Bordeaux.
But Spanish police early Wednesday reopened the main motorway linking Barcelona with France at the northeastern border town of Jonquera. On the French side, truckers who had blocked the road since Monday also left.
Elsewhere in Europe, around 50,000 Polish truckers staged one-hour protests across the country Wednesday, although without blocking roads, the organisers said.
The British government is also finalising contingency plans to cope with a four-day strike by oil tanker drivers this weekend.
And Dutch truckers announced plans to block roads at 18 points across the country for 30 minutes on Thursday.
Across the world, Thai truck drivers threatened Wednesday to go on strike next week and block roads to the capital with 400,000 lorries unless the government helps them pay for soaring fuel costs.
Truckers in South Korea have voted to go on strike on Friday.
In Malaysia, the opposition has planned a series of rallies culminating in a July 12 demonstration which they hope will attract 100,000 people following the government’s fuel price hike of 41 percent last week.
The Associated Press reports today that the Spanish truckers’ strike has “tapered off.” Many taxi drivers in Catalonia heeded a strike call, but in the rest of Spain drivers won concessions on demands for fare rises. The socialist government of Prime Minister Zapatero deployed riot police on Wednesday to clear two border crossings with France and roads leading into Madrid, and provided police escorts for drivers who did not back the strike. Over the past year the cost of diesel has risen 36% in Spain. Prime Minister Jose Zapatero denounced the strikers: “The government is going to have zero tolerance for any act of intimidation or violence.” Although social democrats like Zapatero generally portray themselves as “friends of the working class,” in truth, when the working class and unionized workers strike social democratic governments often respond in a fashion that is sometimes more heavyhanded than that of a rightist government.
In Portugal truckers ended their strike on Wednesday after the ANTRAM union reached an agreement with the government. “We are lifting the blockade of all trucks involved in the stoppage,” union representative Antonio Loios announced.
In France truckers plan another massive national strike beginning June 16, while Italian truckers are preparing to strike on June 30. This week Jerome Cordier, who represent Unostra, the French union of trucking companies, was quoted by London’s Guardian newspaper as saying: “Recent protests mark a new phase of coordinated strikes across Europe.” No doubt Eurocommunists will endeavor to exploit this discontent to maneuver themselves into power throughout Western Europe.
Across the English Channel Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who last year treasonously sold out his country’s sovereignty to the European Union, is bracing for a four-day strike by tanker drivers that began this morning. The British media reports that: “The Army is being put on stand-by to intervene in the petrol tankers’ driver strike amid fears it could snowball beyond a trucker dispute into a widespread protest.” British soldiers are poised to man the tankers in order to ensure that emergency response vehicles do not run out of fuel, while police with emergency powers are preparing to surround fuel depots to “protect essential supplies.” In another typical display of leftist hypocrisy PM Brown, who represents the Labour Party, has condemned the pending strike. In April Scottish motorists, fearing a fuel shortage as the country’s sole oil refinery continued a phased shutdown in the face of strike action, besieged service stations in an earlier round of panic fuel buying.
Petrol: Army on stand-by to drive tankers amid fears other protesters could join fuel strike
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:58 PM on 13th June 2008
The Army is being put on stand-by to intervene in the petrol tankers’ driver strike amid fears it could snowball beyond a trucker dispute into a widespread protest.
Troops are being poised to take to the wheel of tankers if ambulances, fire engines and police cars begin to run out of fuel.
Emergency powers could also allow police, already on guard at the picket lines, to surround depots in order to protect essential supplies.
Gordon Brown has condemned the strike and Downing Street has said the Government’s response will be proportional to the level of disruption.
Ministers believe they can hold out to the end of the four-day strike without calling on Army drivers or a major police operation – as long as it remains a trucker’ protest.
But there are fears the 500 strikers could be joined by other groups, including protesters against high fuel taxes who brought the country to a standstill in 2000.
Tanker drivers from other companies have already been showing their solidarity with the Shell workers after they walked out in a pay dispute at 6am this morning.
Many were seen turning away from refineries today because they did not want to cross the picket line.
Petrol stations across the UK have already started to run dry, with Shell predicting every single one of its outlets will be closed by the end of the first 24 hours.
The military would not be used to fill stations but only to ensure emergency services were not affected.
Business Secretary John Hutton, the Cabinet minister in charge of the emergency response, said contingency plans were in place to minimise disruption.
‘Our advice to motorists is just to buy the fuel they need.’
The AA warned drivers not to waste a single drop of fuel over the weekend.
President, Edmund King, said: ‘Drivers should cut out short journeys, stick to speed limits and take off roof-racks to save fuel. But above all do not queue up at fuel stations. Don’t waste a drop.’
The Shell drivers have refused an improved pay offer of 7.3 per cent backdated to January, which would take average earnings to more than £39,000.
Retailers and the Government have called for ‘restraint’ and said there was plenty of fuel to go around, while the Petrol Retailers Association assured there would be no problem as long as people ‘bought normally’.
But motorists today appeared determined to defy the official advice against panic-buying and flocked to petrol stations to fill up.
In further misery for drivers, a six-hour, go-slow protest by truckers on motorways in north west England tomorrow is due to cause more chaos on the roads.
Around 100 lorries are expected to join a 40mph convoy for the 120-mile round trip down the M6 in Cheshire to Carnforth, Lancashire, and then back again.
The drivers walked out at 6am this morning for four days of industrial action after last-minute talks to resolve their pay dispute failed.
Pickets at terminals around the country were manned by hundreds of trade union members, with police on guard in case of any violence.
Union leaders warned fuel would start to run out ‘almost immediately’ and all Shell’s forecourts would be affected within 24 hours.
Garages across the UK – from Cornwall to London – soon started to run out and started turning cars away.
At the Shell station in Bayswater, central London, a rush of customers last night and in the early morning had drained the pumps.
Its last delivery was yesterday morning, but a rush of customers through the evening and the early morning had emptied supplies.
Striking truckers and transport workers have severely disrupted the economies in South Korea, Malaysia, and Thailand, provoking the governments of these export-dependent countries there to adopt counter-strike measures. “If the government arrests any of the striking truckers, our member unions will immediately launch nationwide strikes,” warned Lee Seok-haeng, head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. “The people are angry,” declared Safarizal Saleh, a leader of the youth wing of the Parti Islam Semalaysia, the chief Islamist party in Malaysia. Since the beginning of the year gasoline prices have in Malaysia have shot up by 41 percent while diesel has surged 63 percent in the wake of rising crude oil prices. Pictured here: Thai truckers strike on June 11, 2008.
Fuel Protests Intensify Across Asia
By CHOE SANG-HUN
Published: June 14, 2008
SEOUL, South Korea — Thousands of South Korean truck drivers went on strike Friday to protest rising fuel prices, threatening to paralyze the country’s ports and challenging the already unpopular government of President Lee Myung-bak. Across Asia, sharp rises in fuel prices continued to stoke public anger.
In Malaysia and Thailand, consumers and truckers demanding bigger fuel subsidies from their governments threatened to strike and Thai fishermen warned that they would burn their boats. More than 5,000 truckers blocked entrances to ports and cargo terminals in South Korea, demanding that the government increase subsidies, authorize higher freight charges and introduce a minimum wage.
The government warned that it would punish drivers if they attempted to block non-striking truckers from picking up cargo. The Transport Ministry confirmed on Friday that it would immediately revoke striking truckers’ annual fuel subsidy payments of about 15 million won, or $14,500.
“The government intends to use whatever means to end this transportation crisis as soon as possible and minimize its impact on the national economy,” said Prime Minister Han Seung-soo.
Tension escalated around major ports as police planned to escort non-striking drivers through the blockades.
“If the government arrests any of the striking truckers, our member unions will immediately launch nationwide strikes,” said Lee Seok-haeng, head of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, which controls unions in auto, construction and other key industries. A two-week truckers’ strike in 2003 cost exporters 540 billion won, or $519 million at Friday’s exchange rates, Mr. Han said, citing figures from the Korea International Trade Association.
Mr. Han predicted that the current strike will cause 128 billion won in export losses a day. The government said it would use military vehicles and increase rail service to keep the country’s factories running and ease the paralysis at the ports. But rail unions said on Friday that they would not cooperate.
With the country’s traditional negotiating season starting, unions seized on President Lee’s unpopularity to boost their leverage.
Mr. Lee’s administration has been shaken by weeks of anti-government protests against a decision in April to resume the import of American beef.
In Malaysia, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi faced rising public discontent as the opposition said it would draw 20,000 people to a march in Kuala Lumpur on Friday to protest fuel costs. “The people are angry,” said Safarizal Saleh, a leader of the youth wing of the Parti Islam Semalaysia, the main Islamist party and one of the organizers of the rally, Reuters reported. Gasoline prices have in Malaysia have jumped by 41 percent and diesel 63 percent as crude oil costs have surged.
In Thailand, the Land Transport Federation of Thailand gave the government until Tuesday to subsidize fuel for truckers or face 100,000 vehicles rumbling into already traffic-clogged Bangkok. Also protesting or planning to stage demonstrations in this still heavily agricultural nation were garlic, cabbage and rice farmers, along with fishermen, The Associated Press reported. “The government is trying its best to reduce the immediate problem of the various groups of protesters,” said Natawut Saikau, a government spokesman, according to the AP.
Elsewhere in Asia Filipino truckers and mini-bus operators blocked roads leading to the presidential palace in Manila. The story below reports that “Gasoline prices in the Philippines are not subsidised and have risen 14 times since the start of the year for a total increase of about 24 percent.”
Trucks block Manila streets to protest fuel prices
Thu Jun 12, 2008 1:21pm IST
MANILA, June 12 (Reuters) – Hundreds of trucks and mini-buses blocked roads leading to the Philippines’ presidential palace on Thursday to demand the lifting of sales tax on fuel products.
Traffic ground to a halt near Malacanang Palace as a phalanx of anti-riot police officers stopped a long convoy of trucks and mini-buses from reaching the country’s seat of power. About 500 three-wheeled motor taxis joined the protest.The protesters, displaying placards and streamers, called on President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to remove a 12 percent sales tax on all petroluem-based products as well as provide more subsidies to the poor.
Gasoline prices in the Philippines are not subsidised and have risen 14 times since the start of the year for a total increase of about 24 percent. Pump prices for unleaded gasoline are now about 55 pesos ($1.2) per litre from 44.50 in January.
“We cannot afford to celebrate with those who commemorate our freedom,” Dante Lagman, the leader of a transport group, said in a statement referring to the fact Thursday was also the country’s Independence Day.Inflation has been surging in the country in recent months. Arroyo’s government has announced plans to increase subsidies to the poor, providing them access to cheaper rice and medicines and distributing 500 pesos cash to 2 million people to help pay electricity bills. ($1 = 44.4 pesos)
In India, where communists hold the balance of power in parliament and Maoist rebels terrorize one third of the country’s districts, a one-day strike against high fuel prices brought the Indian state of Kashmir to a stand still. However, the story below reports: “Protests over fuel price rises have lost steam elsewhere in India as political parties sense grudging acceptance by citizens of the unpopular price hike.”
Indian Kashmir shuts down over fuel protests
Wed Jun 11, 2008 5:42am EDT
SRINAGAR, India (Reuters) – A one day strike to protest against fuel price rises shut shops and banks in Indian Kashmir on Wednesday, coinciding with a protest by transporters demanding they be allowed to raise fares and freight charges.
Protests over fuel price rises have lost steam elsewhere in India as political parties sense grudging acceptance by citizens of the unpopular price hike.
But streets in Srinagar, Kashmir’s summer capital, were deserted and schools and colleges were closed in response to Wednesday’s strike, called by the Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation.
“We express utter dismay over the rise of essential commodities, petrol, diesel and cooking gas, and urge people to observe a complete strike on June 11,” the group said in a statement.
India increased petrol and diesel prices last week by around 10 percent after the cost of fuel subsidies brought state oil companies close to bankruptcy.
Wednesday was also the third day of a four-day strike in Kashmir called by the state’s transport operators demanding an increase in passenger fares and freight charges.
The government has deployed several hundred buses and other vehicles to offer rides after the strike drove about 75,000 vehicles off roads across the state, but residents say it has not been enough.
Officials in Kashmir said there had been no breakthrough in negotiations with transport operators.
Lastly, in Nepal, where the monarch was abolished last month and the Maoists, who hold the largest number of seats in that country’s constituent assembly, are threatening to form a new government, with or without coalition partners, fuel price hikes have provoked protests in Kathmandu (pictured here). The following article reports: “Fuel prices are a test for Nepal’s political parties, now squabbling to form a new government likely to be led by the Maoist former rebels.” Nepal’s fuel protests were organized by the All Nepal Free Students Union, the youth section of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist), a communist grouping with a smaller support base than that of the soon-to-be-ruling Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist).
Fuel price hike triggers protest in Nepal capital
Tue Jun 10, 2008 10:09am EDT
By Gopal Sharma
KATHMANDU, June 10 (Reuters) – Student activists burned tyres on roads and blocked traffic in Kathmandu on Tuesday to protest against a hefty increase in fuel prices, but many Nepalis hope the unpopular hike will at least mean smoother supplies.
Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC) on Monday increased petrol and diesel prices by about a 25 percent to stem losses at the state-run oil company and help overcome a domestic fuel shortage.
Fuel prices are a test for Nepal’s political parties, now squabbling to form a new government likely to be led by the Maoist former rebels.
Many ordinary Nepalis, fed up with long queues at petrol pumps, think some hike was unavoidable but say the increase was too big.
Some, like Kathmandu taxi driver Bill Shrestha, said even though expensive they would rather have a steady supply of more expensive fuel than not have at all.
“If petrol is available in the market after the increase it is okay. I don’t mind,” the 25-year-old Shrestha said. On Tuesday, transport operators announced a 30 percent hike in fares for long distance buses and 35 percent for taxis and buses operating on shorter routes with immediate effect.
NOC said fuel supplies should return to normal within a few days — for the first time in at least six months. The cost of subsidising the retail price had left NOC short of funds to buy sufficient quantities of fuel from India.
But student protesters say the government should have arranged for relief to students as well as to poor people and looked for alternative energy sources to tide over the shortage before rushing with the price hike.
“The government is not sensitive to the difficulties of the people,” said Thakur Gaire, chief of the All Nepal Free Students Union that organised the protests. The union is the student arm of the Communist UML party, Nepal’s third largest group.
“The government must withdraw the decision immediately,” Gaire said.In January, a similar increase in oil prices was withdrawn after nationwide anti-government protests crippled life for two days, but this time such a possibility looks remote.
Consumer groups said the 25 percent increase was unprecedented and would hit ordinary people.
“Cost of public transport as well as food items will increase now,” said Jyoti Baniya, chief of the Forum for the Protection of Consumers’ Interest.
“In the name of price adjustment the state is out for loot.”
Nepal imports about 800,000 tonnes of oil annually.
In South America, Reuters reports, Argentine truckers agreed to remove roadblocks, after staging a sympathy strike for farmers, that paralyzed the distribution of goods to the country’s urban centers. Argentine farmers, in turn, have been engaged in a three-month standoff with the government over grain export taxes. Argentine Justice Minister Anibal Fernandez indicated that the government “was willing to send unarmed military and police forces to break up roadblocks if necessary.” Pictured here: An employee works at a closed gas station in Rosario, Argentina, on June 13, 2008.
Argentine truckers agree to clear roadblocks
June 13, 2008
Argentine trucker groups have agreed to clear roadblocks that halted cargo traffic and fanned fears of food and fuel shortages, after farm leaders reportedly agreed to start selling grains again.
At the same time, Justice Minister Anibal Fernandez told reporters the Government was willing to send unarmed military and police forces to break up roadblocks if necessary.
The heads of two transportation groups called for truckers to clear rural highways and put an end to protests over a three-month stand-off between farmers and the Government, which has left many truck drivers without work.
“We’ve decided to end the protest measure because (farm leaders) confirmed yesterday in meetings and today by telephone that we’ll be able to load grains and move them to port,” Federation of Rural Transporters head Carlos Di Nunzio said.
It was not clear how quickly the roadblocks would be cleared, or if truckers grouped in other associations would obey the orders.
Television images showed trucks carrying grains, milk, food and other goods parked on highways as truckers demanded an end to the farm dispute.