French fuel shortages caused by strikes look set to last for several days despite police rushing picket lines to break a blockade.
Riot squads forced open a strategic refinery near Paris on Friday in a bid to combat dwindling supplies.
The move came as unions vowed to toughen their stance against the government’s controversial pension reform bill even if it becomes law. They announced two further days of strike action.
Earlier, French ministers insisted the fuel situation was improving.
“Three days ago 40 percent of service stations had run out. Two days ago it was 30 percent and we must be around 21 percent today. So, there’s been a gradual improvement in the situation and our job is to make sure we provide fuel for the whole country,” said French Environment Minister Jean-Louis Borloo.
A rush at the pumps is expected as people fill up on the eve of French school holidays. The government has ordered oil companies to pool resources to ensure stations do not run short of fuel.
The latest planned protest strikes are set to take place at the end of this month and in early November.