Petrol stations back to normal after Easter fuel nightmare

It’s business as usual at fuel stations in Portugal after a truckers’ strike saw pumps running dry and plunging the country into chaos over three days just before Easter weekend. Economy minister Pedro Siza Vieira has already said he is “not expecting another strike” of this sort to take place again.

Galp and Prio, two of Portugal’s main fuel suppliers, confirmed that all of their stations were completely replenished while BP said 90% of its pumps were functioning normally again, Expresso newspaper reported on Monday.

But last week the country almost came to a standstill. It was with astonishing speed that Portugal’s fuel stations started running out of fuel after the strike called by the union representing truck drivers tasked with transporting ‘dangerous materials’.

The strike was called due to demands for better salaries, a specific professional category and better conditions for overtime and night-time work.

After three days during which truck drivers simply stopped replenishing fuel stations, leaving most of them completely dried out, an agreement was finally reached during a meeting last Thursday (April 18) between the government, SNMMP (the national syndicate of drivers of dangerous materials) and ANTRAM (the national merchandise transportation association).

Negotiations will now resume between SNMMP and ANTRAM on April 29.

Francisco São Bento, president of SNMMP, said that while the union is against strikes, it had no choice but to resort to what he described as an “nuclear bomb” after many failed meetings and requests for better working conditions were repeatedly ignored.

What’s certain is that the strike forced the hand of ANTRAM and the government, which had to react after scores of panicked drivers quickly stormed the country’s petrol stations, leaving little to no fuel left just days before hundreds of thousands of people were about to enjoy their Easter holiday.

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