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 user 2008-05-30 at 2:21:27 pm Views: 33
  • #20056

    Europe fuel protests spread wider
    protests triggered by rising oil prices have spread to more countries
    across Europe, with thousands of fishermen on strike.Union leaders said
    Portugal’s entire coastal fleet stayed in port on Friday, while in
    Spain, 7,000 fishermen held protests at the agriculture ministry.French
    fishermen have been protesting for weeks, with Belgian and Italian
    colleagues also involved.

    UK and Dutch lorry drivers held similar protests earlier this week.
    strike reflects anger at the rising cost of fuel, with oil prices above
    $130 (83.40 euros; £65.80) a barrel.Trade unions say the cost of diesel
    has become prohibitively high, after rising 300% over the past five
    years.Wholesale fish prices, meanwhile, have been static for 20
    years.Fishermen’s leaders from France, Spain and Italy have been
    meeting in Paris to co-ordinate strikes and protests over the next
    three weeks in the run-up to a European Union fisheries ministers’
    meeting.The protesters are calling for direct immediate aid for the
    fisheries industry, coupled with increased subsidies.The European
    Commission said in a statement it was willing to show flexibility
    towards the industry but it has ruled out subsidies to offset rising
    fuel costs.Short-term aid packages were acceptable as long as they were
    used to address structural deficiencies in the fleets, it said.

    ‘Ruin for fishermen’
    thousand fishermen marched on the agriculture ministry in Madrid, where
    they handed out 20 tonnes of fresh fish to members of the public in an
    attempt to draw attention to their ailing industry.Many blew whistles
    and klaxons, and let off firecrackers producing red smoke.The BBC’s
    Steve Kingstone at the protest said he could see flags from Catalonia,
    the Basque country and Galicia.One banner read: “Soaring diesel plus
    cheap fish equals ruin for fishermen.” Another chided Prime Minister
    Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero: “You are sending us to the cemetery.”
    We must mobilise like the French and if we have to block ports, we’ll block them Xavier Aboy, union leader

    union leader in Barcelona said the country’s fishing fleet was at a
    standstill.”Compliance is total. The entire Spanish coast is at a
    halt,” Jose Caparros told AFP news agency.The unions also say they
    could blockade ports, a day after French police forcibly removed
    fishermen blocking oil depots.”We must mobilise like the French and if
    we have to block ports, we’ll block them,” Xavier Aboy, a union leader
    in Galicia, told AFP.

    In France the authorities have offered
    100m euros in aid, prompting some fishermen to return to work.At dawn
    on Thursday, French riot police cleared protesters from the
    Mediterranean oil depots of Fos-sur-Mer and Lavera, and a Total
    refinery at La Mede in the south.On the same day police clashed with
    fishermen who burned tyres in the Atlantic port of Lorient, while
    hundreds protested in Quimper, Brittany.On Friday, protesters blockaded
    the Channel port of Le Havre.Hundreds of farmers have also been
    blocking oil terminals near the cities of Dijon and Toulouse.

    Italy, at least 5,000 fishermen are expected to strike, the main trade
    union Federcoopesca says. The government has already refused emergency
    aid to the industry.But the BBC’s David Willey in Rome says many
    fishermen are adopting a wait-and-see policy as talks with the
    government continue, and in the Adriatic ports the response to the
    strike has been mixed.”No boats went out” in Portugal, a union leader
    there said, and in the central port of Peniche boat owners set up a
    barrier to prevent unloading.Bulgarian bus drivers are also planning a
    one-hour strike on Friday, following protests by lorry drivers on