© Reuters. Farmers and truck drivers gather outside Atletico Madrid stadium to vote a strike in both sectors during a fifth day of protests across the country, in Madrid, Spain. February 10, 2024. REUTERS/Catarina Demony
MADRID (Reuters) – Spanish police on Saturday clashed with a group of farmers and truck drivers in Madrid as they tried to access a main road in a bid to block it, one of several protests sweeping the European Union against the bloc’s environmental rules and what workers see as excessive taxes and red tape.
A group representing drivers, Plataforma Nacional, and a newly created farmers’ group, Plataforma 6-F, on Saturday came together to jointly demand action from Spanish and European leaders. They claim rules to protect the environment make them less competitive compared to other regions.
Members of both groups, waving Spanish flags, wearing yellow vests and shouting ‘Viva Espana’, gathered in a car park near the Atletico de Madrid stadium and voted in favour of joining forces. They will protest together from now on.
“The government is forcing us to take measures that mean products will unfortunately not get to consumers in time. That is why we are calling on politicians to take responsibility and do something,” said Manuel Hernandez, head of the Plataforma Nacional, representing truck drivers.
Since Tuesday, Spanish farmers have joined their counterparts from Germany, France, Italy, Portugal and Belgium in daily protests that include blocking several highways and ports.
Shortly after the vote, hundreds of protesters walked around the Madrid stadium and then tried to access a main highway via a dirt road. Using force, dozens of police officers managed to stop them from doing so.
Later a group of around 200 protesters tried to gather outside the headquarters of Spain’s ruling Socialist party, but a large police presence prevented them from getting too close.
Both groups vowed to keep protesting, in Madrid and across the country, until their demands were met.