Portugal to ration fuel during strike

Tanker drivers strike to go ahead on mainland

Portugal’s fuel-tanker drivers have voted to strike from today for an indefinite period, raising fears about the impact on the country’s tourism-dependent economy during the busy summer season.
The vote means the strike will go ahead as planned after the failure of negotiations with the employers’ association, as drivers from two unions demand higher wages and better working conditions.

The Socialist government led by Prime Minister Antonio Costa has already started preparations for the strike, declaring an energy crisis which has been in place since 11:59 p.m. last Friday and is scheduled to last until Aug. 21. The declaration of an energy crisis allows the government to ensure full supplies to ports, hospitals, airports, military bases, fire stations, the civil protection agency and some 320 key public petrol stations. The declaration also enables the government to mobilize the army to secure supplies.

Drivers restricted to 15 litres of fuel

Fuel rationing, which will restrict car drivers to a maximum of 15 litres of petrol or diesel at specially designated stations, will start at midnight Saturday and is scheduled to last until Aug. 21.

A similar strike by fuel-tanker drivers in April caused low supplies at more than 2,000 petrol stations and prompted panic buying by drivers.

Drivers have again been rushing to filling stations, causing long queues in some cities, on fears that this strike could be worse as it comes at the height of the summer tourist season. A website providing information on the strike said 7% of the country’s filling stations were already running low.

The National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority has made clear that people who store fuel in jerrycans at home or in other buildings in Portugal are breaking fire safety laws.

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