Portugal forced to ration fuel due to strikes

The Portuguese government announced on Friday that refuelling will be rationed for as long as a strike by tanker drivers continues.

The strike begins on Monday and rationing was introduced on Saturday evening. Rationing is scheduled to last until August 21. A similar strike in April exhausted supplies and prompted panic buying by drivers.

Light vehicles till be able to pump a maximum of 25 litres and heavy vehicles 100 litres, to ensure the government can guarantee supplies to hospitals and airports. According to Environment Minister Joao-Matos Fernandes, fuel sales surged by 30% over the last week, in anticipation of the strike.

The government is ready to deploy 500 soldiers and officers to drive trucks and has created a network of 386 strategic petrol stations.

Fuel tanker drivers are demanding higher wages and better working conditions and the government is bracing for the prospect of prolonged industrial action. The strike takes place ahead of national elections in October.

While they secured a wage rise in April, drivers are now asking for equivalent increases in 2020 and 2021. The strike takes place ahead of national elections in October, testing the resilience of the Portuguese left-wing government that is currently leading the polls.

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