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France wakes up to strike chaos on the roads

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France wakes up to strike chaos on the roads


Lorry drivers have added their weight to the industrial mayhem gripping France by slowing down motorway traffic or by blocking key roads.

After days of rail disruption, unions are putting on the pressure before Wednesday’s Senate vote on President Nicolas Sarkozy’s unpopular pension reforms. He is refusing to back down over a two-year retirement age hike, but so too are the unions.

Didier Le Reste of the CGT union warned of more strike action.
“The start of the week will see a widening of the strike, with more sustained action in sectors such as road transport, energy, postal and telecommunications and public service and commerce,” he said.

Fears that the two major airports in Paris could run out of fuel in the next 48 hours have been dispelled by the government despite blockades at France’s 12 refineries. However supply shortages could hit elsewhere by mid-week with depots in the south west already depleted by an unrelated stoppage.

French Prime Minister François Fillon said:
“The right to strike is not the right to prevent access to a fuel depot. That is an action that is illegal. Nor is it the right to prevent access to the workplace to those who want to work.”

Tuesday could be the government’s make-or-break day with more street protests planned. Unions say that three million people took part in Saturday’s nationwide marches although the government maintains turnout was lower than previous rallies.

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