Italian motorway gas stations set for long strike

Associations bemoan high prices imposed by petrol companies

Italian motorway gas stations set for long strike

Rome, July 15 - Italian freeway gas stations are set to go on a long strike late on Tuesday that will run until early on Friday. Service-station industry associations called the protest, which will see motorway service stations lock their pumps from 22:00 on Tuesday to 6:00 on Friday, against the prices set by the petrol companies. Gas prices were upped by many companies on Monday, the latest in a series of hikes. The Quotidiano Energia journal reported that the national average for unleaded petrol was now up to 1.836 euros a litre and 1.739 euros for diesel. The associations said Monday that they were pressing ahead with the strike as the government had been "indifferent" to their appeals about the prices set by the petrol companies. Industry Ministry Flavio Zanonato called on the petrol companies to "take account of the situation of the country", which is enduring its longest recession since World War II, with their pricing policies. But the minister also said the hikes were "prevalently" caused by increases in crude-oil prices and in demand and said the differences between prices at the petrol pump in Italy and other European countries were "minimal". Service-station associations and consumer groups have frequently complained that the companies set much higher prices in Italy than elsewhere in Europe. The national authority regulating strikes will hold talks with the service-station associations and the major petrol companies operating in Italy, Eni, Shell, Q8, Api, Tamoil, TotalErg, Esso, on Wednesday in a bid to revive negotiations.

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