French strikes cost '400m euros a day'

French strikes cost '400m euros a day'
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Protests against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s pension reforms have entered a new week despite the bill being approved in France’s Senate.

On-off strike action this month has caused chaos.

Dockers near Marseille this morning lifted their blockade of France’s biggest oil port, for now, but vowed not to accept a rise in the retirement age.

Pointing out the remaining procedural stages the law must complete, port workers’ union leader Stephane Stamatiou said that even if they do go ahead, “we will not apply it.”

Workers at many refineries have voted to continue striking and unions have called two further nationwide days of protest, including this Thursday.

The country is counting the cost. Some estimates put it as high as 400 million euros a day, according to Economy Minister Christine Lagarde. Acknowledging the difficulty of putting a precise figure on the losses, she is warning of longer-term damage to France’s image abroad.

Fuel shortages are continuing to bite. Around one petrol station in three remains in difficulty. The government has moved to reassure people the situation will return to normal “within days.”

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