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29 Jan, 2008 02:17

Poland fails to ease border truck-jams

Queues on Poland's eastern border are not getting any shorter, with thousands of trucks stuck after Polish custom staff went on strike. They are demanding higher salaries and more favourable working conditions.

The hot spots are now Poland's border with Belarus and Ukraine. For over a week, drivers have desperately waited for permission to cross.  They also have to cope with no food, and nowhere to go to the toilet or have a shower.

The despair among the drivers is mounting. It is also taking a toll on their health. Last Wednesday a Polish truck driver died of a heart attack after spending three days in the queue.

Now it is quite empty on the Belarus side of the border as trucks going to Europe are diverted to neighbouring Lithuania. But on the border with Ukraine, trucks are queuing on both sides. Money, food and patience are gradually running out.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk went to the border in an attempt to settle the problem. But the custom officers say they will resume work only after their demands are fully met.

The desperate drivers have also threatened further action such as blocking the streets in the Polish capital, Warsaw, and other cities in the country.