By Humphrey Carter

PALMA
THE Balearics were braced last night for possible food and fuel shortages if the Spanish truck drivers and fishermen's strike in protest over fuel prices becomes a long and drawn out dispute. Yesterday long queues started to build up at petrol stations in and around Palma as vehicles owners started stockpiling fuel.

Yesterday, on Day One of the indefinite transport strike, there appeared to be come confusion in the Balearics.
The only truck drivers to have seconded the strike are in Ibiza and the mainland but with the Balearics highly dependent on imported goods and fuel, the President of the Balearic Confederation of Business Associations, Josep Oliver, said he is extremely worried about the possible consequences of a prolonged strike, stressing that the islands are so dependent on transport, the Balearic merits special attention from central government.

However, the President of the Balearic Small Business Confederation, Juan Cabrera disagreed.
He does not believe the Balearics will suffer any supply shortages as a result of the strike - if as it would appear, it only lasts for three or four days. He said that there are sufficient stockpiles of fuel and food and with the majority of local truck drivers operating as usual, he sees no need for concern. Mercapalma, Majorca's main fresh produce wholesale outlet said that its principal distributors have been stockpiling produce in anticipation of the strike and that they too are storing enough food for three to four days. That said, Palma City Council sources said that today is going to be key because Monday is traditionally a quiet day for suppliers so today, the true extent of the strike and implications for the Balearics will be clearer.

Supermarket chain Eroski says it has enough stock for 21 days although, fresh produce will become a problem if the strike continues towards the weekend. Shipping was, however, hit yesterday. Four merchant ships crossing from the Balearics to ports on the mainland were cancelled because of protesters picketing the ports in Valencia and Barcelona but the shipping companies were hopeful that passenger ferries would be able to sail carrying merchant cargo as normal.

The Majorcan Chamber of Commerce yesterday issued a statement in which it urged central government to “take the necessary measures to protect and defend citizens' rights” and provide guarantees that the strike does not disrupt the lives of the general public.

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