The Portuguese government triggered civil requisition measures and ordered striking fuel tanker workers to return to work in some parts of the country Monday, after over a third of petrol stations ran completely or partially dry.
The government will act “proportionally and as necessary, whenever necessary, to ensure the normal functioning of basic essential services,” Portugal’s Secretary of State Tiago Antunes said in a statement announcing the move. Lisbon is still considering the terms under which it could get the army involved, he added.
The government declared an energy crisis Friday in anticipation of Monday’s strike, setting a minimum service level for designated filling stations across the country and implementing fuel rationing measures that restricted drivers to a maximum of 15 liters of petrol or diesel per filling at certain stations.
But despite the measures, the strike — scheduled at the height of the tourist season — caused fuel supplies to run below the minimum services level at various locations including at Lisbon airport, according to the government.
Striking workers want higher salaries and improved working conditions, echoing calls from a similar strike in April which caused major industrial disruption.
Pedro Pardal Henriques, vice president of the National Hazardous Materials Drivers’ Union, one of the unions that called the strike, told Reuters that drivers had delivered minimum services and the civil requisition measure is “an attack on the strike.”
The strike had a flow-on effect on Spain, according to local media, with hundreds of vehicles crossing the border to refuel.