Striking Spanish drivers damage commissary trucks
June 11, 2007
Striking Spanish truck drivers damaged two trucks carrying groceries bound for the commissary at U.S. Naval Station Rota, Spain, on Tuesday, a day after trucking in the country nearly ground to a halt in protest of high fuel costs.
The strike, meant to pressure the government into delivering some measure of price relief, sent Spanish motorists across the country scrambling to gas stations to stock up on fuel and other essentials.
Lines for fuel Sunday at one of Rota’s two off-base gas stations stretched the length of two football fields, said Heather Vaca-Guzman, who works at the base’s animal kennel. But the story on base is far rosier.
"I got gas yesterday and there were no lines and no problems," she said.
The on-post gas station has plenty of gas, "plus we’re expecting a truck tomorrow," said Johnny Adams, a station employee. He said trucks bound for the naval station are being escorted by police. There have been reports of violence against truckers still on the road.
The trucking company contracted by the Defense Commissary Agency to bring groceries to Spain isn’t striking. But the agency ceased shipments to Spain from its distribution centers in Germany on Tuesday after strikers broke the windshields on two contracted trucks and slashed some tires, according to Geraldine Young, an agency spokeswoman.
"We are watching this very, very closely," Young said. "Tomorrow morning we’ll take a look at it again and decide where to go from there."
Meanwhile, Rota’s commissary is far from running out of food. The agency shipped extra food to the store in anticipation of the strike, and Tuesday it was 98 percent stocked, Young said.
"A couple of days of a strike is not enough to hurt us," she said.
Media reports say Spaniards are stocking up on food and fuel in anticipation of long negotiations between striking workers and the government, which has so far rebuffed demands to set shipping rates that would help small truck companies compete with big carriers. The Associated Press reported some gasoline stations in Madrid and other areas ran out of fuel Tuesday, and there was rising fear that stores would run out of food.
On base, though, Americans weren’t worried about shortages.
"Largely it’s business as usual on base with regards to consumer items both at the exchange and at the commissaries," said Mike Morley, a spokesman for the base. He said the command is urging personnel to conserve gas by driving less and discouraged fuel hoarding by putting limits on jerry cans.
"You don’t see people rushing in to buy, you know, 12 gallons of milk or anything like that. If you need it, it’s there, and people are taking what they need," Morley said.