Europe: Strikes Create Disruption : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Nando Times

PARIS (September 25, 2000 12:58 p.m. EDT - Strikes canceled flights in Belgium, disrupted regional rail traffic in France and caused long lines to form at gasoline stations across Greece on Monday.

Despite a month of protests against the high cost of fuel in Europe, none of the strikes were directed solely against fuel prices.

French commuters and travelers faced disruptions at the start of a week of train, metro and bus strikes by transport workers pressing for pay increases, more jobs and progress on implementing a 35-hour work week.

Suburban commuter traffic in and out of Paris was spotty, with lines south of the capital most affected.

Strikes by regional rail employees disrupted traffic serving the cities of Dijon, Clermont-Ferrand, Chambery, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Amiens, Orleans and Limoges. Major rail lines were not affected.

A 24-hour strike by ground staff - protesting plans to privatize airport services - forced flight delays and cancellations at Brussels International Airport.

Belgium's Sabena Belgian World Airlines said it would be forced to cancel about 50 European flights at its main hub and was seeking to reroute some flights to other airports.

Separate strikes disrupted Belgian train and postal services. Unions at the state railroad were protesting against recent violent attacks on staff. Postal workers struck against planned layoffs.

In Greece, nervous motorists lined up at gas stations as fuel deliveries came to a halt with a nationwide truckers' strike that stirred fears of shortages.

Government spokesman Dimitris Reppas called for strikers to show a "sense of social responsibility" and end the protest.

Truck owners and drivers want the government to repeal a decision to deregulate the granting of road hauling permits. They also want a decrease in fuel taxes, which are the lowest in the European Union.

Spanish truckers and taxi drivers protesting fuel prices inched along the two main loops encircling Madrid during morning rush hour Monday, but failed to cause any major traffic jams, police said.

Protest organizers said 300 vehicles participated in the three-hour slowdown called by the Platform for Fuel Consumers, which consists of 21 associations of farmers, fishermen and transport workers.

The group has tried for more than a week to force the government to roll back a rise in diesel fuel prices.

Government-subsidized prices for industrial diesel have increased 55 percent since a year ago to about $1.70 a gallon. The government has said it cannot meet the protesters' demands because it has no control over international petroleum prices.

-- Rachel Gibson (, September 25, 2000

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