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Brazil truck drivers union agrees to stop strike, pending vote by members
SAO PAULO (AP) ' A union representing striking truck drivers in South America's largest city agreed Tuesday to abide by a court order to end a work stoppage that has depleted supplies at gas stations across the area, union officials said Wednesday.
But truck drivers union President Norival de Almeida Silva said union members would still vote Wednesday on whether to end the strike and that the "final decision is up to the truck drivers."
A state court judge ruled Tuesday night that unions will be fined 1 million reals ($565,000) a day if the strike does not end.
Most of the city's 2,000 gas stations have run out of fuel, Jose Gouveia, president of an association representing gas station owners, told reporters.
"If the strike ends today, it will take at least five days for things to return to normal at the service stations," Gouveia said.
Cars lined up at Sao Paulo gas stations that still had fuel to sell. Television broadcasts showed police cars escorting non-striking truckers delivering fuel to bus companies and to Sao Paulo's Congonhas airport.
A spokeswoman for Sao Paulo's Consumer Protection and Defense Department said that the agency has received 109 reports of gas stations upping pump prices by more than 20 percent since the strike started. She declined to be identified in accordance to department policy.
The strike began Monday to protest the city government's attempt to restrict where big trucks can drive in a metropolis infamous for its congested streets.
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. The union said that would increase transportation costs and time.
Union leaders have said truckers would return to work if the restrictions are made more flexible.
But Mayor Gilberto Kassab said truckers were blackmailing the city and has refused to negotiate.