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Fuel strike paralyses automobile industry

Latest update : 2008-06-12

Spain's car industry said on Wednesday it has been paralysed by a nationwide strike by truck drivers angry at the soaring cost of fuel. All 18 of Spain's car factories are expected to be suspending production as of Thursday. (Report: A Georgian)

(MADRID) Car makers association Anfac said by Thursday all 18 car factories in Spain, which produce 13,000 vehicles a day and which account for about 5 percent of Spain’s GDP, would be off line because of a lack of parts and fuel.

In recent days truckers across Spain have also blocked deliveries of fuel and food -sparking a rush by consumers to stockpile commodities—and have jammed up motorways causing travel chaos for millions. The dispute has become increasingly violent and one protestor was killed on Tuesday.

Infrastructure Minister Magdalena Alvarez told parliament on Wednesday the government and the main group representing strikers had agreed terms, not yet outlined, to end the blockades.

Seat, Mercedes-Benz Renault, Nissan, Citroen, Peugeot and Iveco all have factories in Spain as does Ford, whose Vigo plant was one of the few still operating on Wednesday, an Anfac spokesman said.

Some parts of Spain were already suffering fuel shortages after protesters picketed fuel depots and many market stall holders—particularly traders in fruit, vegetables and fish -- say they only have supplies for another day or two.

One truck driver sleeping at a picket line near southeastern city Alicante suffered severe burns when his cab caught fire in what police suspect was arson.

The fire which started at 4 a.m. (0200 GMT) completely destroyed the unnamed man’s vehicle and three other trucks.

On Tuesday, one striking truck driver was run over by a van and killed near a Granada market in southern Spain, while in Portugal, a striker died as he tried to stop a truck on a road north of the capital Lisbon.

Two other striking groups left the meeting with the minister early after hearing of the protester killed in Grananda.

In northeastern region Catalonia, police said they had managed to clear protesters and reopen the Jonquera border crossing with France.

There have also been protests in France over the impact of record oil prices, now at highs of more than $139 per barrel.

Diesel has risen to 1.30 euros ($2.01) a litre from 0.95 euros a year ago, pressuring European Union governments to help heavy fuel users such as truck and taxi drivers, fishermen and farmers.

Date created : 2008-06-11