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A Striking Experience

June 9, 2008 – 5:21 pm

There is nothing like a strike to ease the flow of traffic on our busiest roads. This makes the commute to work so easy you almost wish…

…Yet, there is reason to believe if the lorry strike continues throughout this week, the local economy will begin to cringe at the consequences. We’re only at the start of this event and already some petrol stations in our region have run out of fuel, particularly diesel.

Consumer rights groups are advising everyone to relax and refrain from stockpiling foodstuffs as that will only drain local supplies sooner. Many, however, will certainly opt for sooner rather than later. However, fresh fish is the only item predicted to run out should the strike last all week.

I’ll never forget a similar strike I lived through in the Spanish Basque Country over ten years ago. The shelves in the local supermarket were frighteningly bare and the owner of the corner shop across the street became a self appointed rationing agent, refusing to sell more than one litre of milk at a time because “it wasn’t fair”. I was puzzled. I had a small baby at home, money on the counter and what’s more, I was there first! Didn’t I have the right to buy as much milk as I could carry?

For me, it was a shocking cultural experience. I had never seen anything like it before and suddenly felt vulnerable living in the centre of a city, so far removed from a house in the country with a vegetable garden out back and a cow in the barn. On the bright side, the government resolved the strike before the milk supplies ran out.

So here it is again, another chance to experience a “huelga de transportistas”, Spanish style, only this time at the other end of the country. I’ll be keeping an eye on the shop shelves to see if the Andalusians are as dedicated to stockpiling as their counterparts on the opposite end of the peninsula. After all, this is just another cultural experience, isn’t it?

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