The nationwide petrol station strike has been suspended this evening “as a sign of goodwill” pending negotiations between the small business union (GRTU) and the Energy Ministry.
“The GRTU has instructed petrol station owners to suspend tonight’s strike pending a meeting with the Energy Ministry tomorrow,” the GRTU said in a statement. “Petrol station owners want to cause as little inconvenience to consumers as possible and give off a sign of goodwill ahead of tomorrow’s discussions. The actions have been suspended for this evening, but we will not exclude restarting them if an agreement isn’t reached at the end of tomorrow’s meeting.”
Petrol stations have been on strike since Tuesday in protest at the government’s unwillingness to partially subsidise the refitting of up to 90% of petrol stations around Malta, as per an EU directive. The GRTU is arguing that the petrol stations’ combined savings don’t cover the refitting costs and that it is unfair to force petrol station owners to take out bank loans when the Prime Minister has already pledged to introduce a cut-off date for the purchase of all petrol and diesel vehicles.
“It is not right that you aren’t being served and we understand your concerns, but I urge you to understand ours,” the GRTU said yesterday on behalf of fuel station owners. “It is not right for us to work in vein. The government controls fuel prices and even when our expenses increase, we have to keep selling at the current prices, as we have done for the past nine years. The government wants us to modernise our fuel stations, and we agree with this plan.”
“However, it will cost over €500,000 per station and the investment will only last for a few years as fuels will soon be eliminated. We have been urging the government to help us with our costs for several years, and we are insisting that this aid doesn’t end up burdening consumers [through higher prices]. We apologise but we are sure you’d have done the same in our shoes.”