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Fuel shortage looms in Greece due to strike
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08:45, May 12, 2008

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The prospect of widespread fuel shortages due to an ongoing strike by the owners of private fuel tanker trucks in Greece is looking increasingly possible, as petrol stations around the country began to "run dry" on Sunday.

Shortages of unleaded petrol and diesel for motor vehicles were particularly acute, and drivers both in Attica and elsewhere around Greece faced the prospect of ending up with empty fuel tanks.

Tanker truck owners, along with owners of other heavy goods vehicles, have been on strike for a week now in order to demand rate increases by 13 percent in order to cover mounting costs that have soared as a result of rising oil prices. The government, however, has offered only 5 percent.

An employee of a closed petrol station gestures to a customer asking for petrol during a fuel truck drivers' strike in Athens May 11, 2008. Thousands of Greeks queued for hours at petrol stations to fill up their cars as the strike started to hit supplies with some 70 percent of stations around the country running out of petrol, officials said.

The head of the tanker truckers federation has indicated that truckers are prepared to sit down to talk with the government to work out a compromise deal.

The tanker truckers' union federation is due to hold its general assembly on Monday to decide what to do next. If it chooses to extend the strike, then it is almost certain that there will be serious problems with fuel shortages, though it is not necessarily limited to these troubles.

The truckers' strike is also expected to affect the smooth operation of markets in general, with tons of goods waiting at ports and customs posts, while several perishable goods may be completely ruined. Incidents occurred at Iraklion port on Saturday, for example, when truckers attempted to prevent 20 lorries of produce from boarding a ferry bound for Piraeus.

Also joining the strike to demand higher fare increases are taxi drivers, who have called a 24-hour work stoppage beginning at 5 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Monday to seek a higher increase in fares as against the 5 percent offered by the government, again citing higher costs due to rising oil prices.


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