Gasoline truck drivers end strike in Sao Paulo

March 8, 2012 - 12:25 PM
Brazil Truckers Strike

Customers wait in line to fuel their vehicles in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday March 7, 2012. Truck drivers in South America's largest city will be voting on whether to continue a strike that has depleted supplies at gas stations across Sao Paulo, union officials said Wednesday. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

SAO PAULO (AP) — Fuel delivery truckers have ended a three-day strike that emptied many gas stations in South America's biggest city, union officials said Thursday.

Drivers started delivering fuel to the city's 2,000 gas stations Wednesday night under police escort, said Claudio Ferreira, a spokesman for the Sao Paulo truck drivers union.

The union requested police protection from "nonunion individuals who threatened to damage trucks and attack drivers," Ferreira said, adding that service stations are expected to be operating normally within three to seven days.

The strike began Monday to protest the city government's attempt to restrict where big trucks can drive.

The truck drivers union said transportation costs and travel times will increase because of the restrictions that limit the hours truckers can use some city highways and force trucks to take alternative routes.

On Tuesday a judge ruled that unions would be fined one million reals ($565,000) a day during the duration of the strike.

The Sao Paulo metropolitan area, with 20 million people, is one of the world's most congested urban centers and is infamous for its clogged roads. The city has more than 7 million cars and more than 5 million people use the public bus system, all of which were in danger of grinding to a halt if gasoline supplies were cut off.

Sao Paulo's Consumer Protection and Defense Department said that the agency has received more than 200 reports of gas stations upping pump prices by more than 20 percent since the strike started.