Cablegate: Turkish Truckers' Strike Over; Fuel Deliveries To

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (SBU) Truckers delivering refined products to northern
Iraq under the contract managed by Kellogg, Brown and Root
(KBR) went on strike Monday, bringing badly need fuel
deliveries to a halt and raising concerns of imminent fuel
shortages. After two days of negotiations, the truckers
agreed to resume deliveries. Loading began at 10 pm
Wednesday evening, with the first trucks expected to reach
the Iraqi border by midnite Thursday.

2. (SBU) Discontent has been rising among the truckers, who
complain of growing delays at the border, mistreatment by
customs officials, and growing security risks in Iraq. But
the final straw was a move to end a common smuggling practice
allegedly condoned by Iraqi customs officials, who allowed
the truckers to bring cheap fuel back into Turkey, where it
was sold at a higher price. The decision coincided with the
Turkish Bayram holiday, when many truckers took time off and
had the opportunity to discuss their grievances and organize
a strike, which began Monday afternoon.

3. (SBU) The strike was very effective, almost completely
halting deliveries. (KBR employs as many as 3,500 trucks;
only about 100 trucks continued to make deliveries on Tuesday
and Wednesday.) The striking drivers congregated at the main
loading terminals in Mersin, where talks with the Turkish
companies responsible for hiring the truckers took place. On
Thursday evening, the truckers agreed to a sizable increase
in the fee paid for delivery. A key point in persuading the
truckers to return to work was the assurance of the 101st
Airborne to provide security for the truckers in Iraq.
Loading began at 10 pm Wednesday evening, and by 5 pm, 1,000
trucks were loaded and on their way to Iraq.

4. (SBU) The immediate crisis has been resolved, but KBR's
representative warned that truckers will still face problems
at the border and security concerns in Iraq. He remarked
that truckers have demonstrated their ability to organize an
effective strike and warned that repeated delays at the
border, which have plagued the KBR operation, could set off a
new strike at any time.

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