Over 20,000 National Police and Civil Guard officers have been mobilised by the Spanish government to guarantee supplies from lorry drivers who are defying the haulage strike called to protest the rise in fuel costs.
National media outlets have reported numerous attacks and threats by striking drivers to those who have not supported the walkout.
The attacks have included rocks being thrown at lorry windows, damaged containers and tires punctured.
In one incident in northwest Spain, pickets threw burning tires onto main roads overnight, leading to two arrests.
Transport Minister Raquel Sánchez said that the strike leaders are “bent on blackmailing this country”.
“This violent behaviour is not representative of the transport sector,” Sánchez said. “We are aware [of the difficulties over fuel prices], but we won’t give in to this blackmail.”
Police across Spain were ordered to ensure that the delivery of essential goods and services is maintained, the Interior Ministry said.
The strikers replied that they are “a sector that only wants to live from its work and which feels excluded and disrespected by the country’s leaders.”
— Ministerio del Interior (@interiorgob) March 18, 2022
Lorry drivers have complained that the rising cost of diesel fuel and energy and left them in a “catastrophic” situation.
The Spanish government says it plans to introduce measures against high energy and fuel prices later this month.
The indefinite strike has triggered supply chain problems according to the country´s small business association.
The Ministry of the Interior has responded by organizing convoys under police protection to guarantee supplies get through.
The Madrid regional government have called upon the central government for an “immediate solution” including addressing the need to control prices at the fuel pump.
The national federation of dairy industries, FENIL, said that some of its members had been forced to halt production.
Milk is a ‘primary food product which is perishable and needs to be collected every day’, which can only be done with ‘free transport circulation” ’, said FENIL’s director Luis Calabozo to RNE 1 radio.
The rise in fuel has outstripped the increase in inflation – in itself,growing at a rate not seen since the 1990s.
Spain´s largest trade unions, the UGT and the CCOO, have called for general strike on 23 March.