IN SYDNEY and across the world truck drivers are leading protests demanding relief from rising fuel costs.

In the first week of July, Operation Escargot saw truck drivers initiate a national “go slow” crippling cities across France. In Sydney the Transport Worker’s Union organized a convoy of about 100 trucks that drove at a snail’s pace from Wyong, on the central coast, to Wahroonga, in Sydney’s north, over wages, working conditions and rising fuel costs.

Elsewhere truck drivers blockaded roads in Spain and Portugal. In the Caribbean two striking truck drivers were killed trying to stop vehicles crossing their picket lines, and hundreds were arrested and fined as police attacked the pickets.

Latin America saw marches and blockades across Panama and Chile, where the national confederation of truckers demanded fuel taxes be cut to alleviate the hurt of a 50 per cent rise in petrol costs.

In South East Asia oil prices have also lead to unrest. The Thai Government has been forced to plan cash hand-outs to mollify truckers threatening to bring Bangkok to a standstill. In Indonesia the price of petrol rose 28.7 per cent in May alone. Mass protests are planned in Kuala Lumpur, and have already rocked the Philippines.

While millions suffer, oil companies rake in profits. ExxonMobil alone, the world’s largest oil conglomerate, raked in $10.9 billion in the first three months of this year, up 17 per cent on its 2007.

Protests by Australian truck drivers deserve our support. They are right to demand that government take action to protect their livelihoods.

By Jean Parker

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