About a 500.000 people are on strike across France to protest draft legislation in parliament aimed at raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. Oil refinery workers opposed to the pension reforms struck for an eighth day on Tuesday, contributing to fuel shortages across the country. The strikes are having repercussions beyond France's borders.
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Education, transportation, and fuel supplies have been affected by the walk outs.
Benoit Hamon, spokesperson for the country's Socialist Party, says it is a legitimate protest. He says the strikes are a result of the French government refusing to negotiate.
Thousands of gasoline stations across the country have run out of fuel because strikers are blocking deliveries. Gas prices have skyrocketed because of panic buying. As many as 11 refineries in France have halted operations or reduced output.
Jorge Goncalves, a member of a French transport union, says the goal is to block oil refineries and increase the blockade across the country.
With an unusually cold winter predicted for Europe, rising oil prices as a result of the strikes could mean bad news for much of the continent. Analysts say that if the strikes continue, fuel shortage might push prices up across Europe in the coming months.
Nonetheless, French President Sarkozy says he will go ahead with planned pension reforms.
He says that if he does not do his job, pension funds will not be properly financed.
The French Senate is due to hold a final vote on the pension reforms this week. More protests are expected.