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France labour reform standoff fuels petrol shortages

Strikes over labour reforms have left fuel in short supply in France.

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France labour reform standoff fuels petrol shortages

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Strikes over labour reforms have left fuel in short supply in France. Riot police removed workers blockading oil depots at all but one centre, in order to ease shortages.

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"We do not take people hostage"

Jean-François Vapillon Secrétaire Fédéral FO Fédéchimie

However, six out of eight refineries have been disrupted, meaning the country has dipped into its strategic reserves.

For Euronews Philippe Matthieu explained: “the Feyzin refinery, south of Lyon, handles more than 5 million tons of crude petrol per year. Since last Friday, like other refineries in France, it has been producing absolutely nothing.”

The government has accused the unions of holding the country to hostage, but neither side is ready to back down.

“We do not take people hostage,” Jean-François Vapillon, Secrétaire Fédéral FO Fédéchimie told euronews. “We’re exercising our right to strike in order to counter the government’s proposals on this labour law. We are for the removal of this law. We’re a strategic fuel plant. So actually, it is understandable that it might annoy people to have a shortage of petrol, but we are not responsible for the shortage of petrol.”

Around a fifth of petrol stations are facing shortages after a week of strikes and blockades against the reform which would make hiring and firing easier, and threaten the 35-hour working week.

The standoff has raised concerns over the impact on the Euro 2016 football tournament, due to begin on June 10.