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French police clear fuel depot protests

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French police clear fuel depot protests


French police moved in on Wednesday to clear blockaded fuel depots as unions step up the pressure on the government ahead of a vote this week to raise the retirement age to 62.

Strikes have crippled ports, as well as oil refineries and depots, leaving petrol pumps across France to run dry.

More than 3,000 service stations in France are out of fuel.

Out of the country’s 12 refineries, nine were hit by industrial action on Wednesday.

Security forces also intervened at to break up a number of demonstrations outside oil depots so operations can restart.

After deploying the police, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said continued protests “could paralyse the country and hurt the economy.”

A nine-day transport strike in 2007 cost France about 400 million euros a day, although the current strikes are not expected to cost as much.

The port of Marseille has been blockaded for 24 days, leaving nearly 70 tankers lying idle and unable to dock.

Unions are to hold a ballot on today on whether to continue their action.

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