News / Europe

French Strikes Fuel Gasoline Shortage

French Union workers block the entrance of the oil refinery of Grandpuits eastern of Paris, 13 Oct 2010
French Union workers block the entrance of the oil refinery of Grandpuits eastern of Paris, 13 Oct 2010

Ongoing protests in France against government pension reform plans may lead to one unexpected fallout, fuel shortages.

A second day of protests in France over government plans to increase the retirement age has snarled public transportation and shuttered schools.  But France may soon face another problem, gas shortages.  The strikes have all but closed nine out of 10 French oil refineries.

At the Feyzin refinery in France's Rhone valley region, the local leader of the CFDT trade union told French radio the majority of workers supported the strike.

He said people were fed up with the center-right government of President Nicolas Sarkozy and lawmakers must now listen to the workers.

It was the same reaction in the French port city of Marseille. A local union leader said refining activity had slowed and some stopped altogether.

French oil giant Total, which owns half the country's oil refineries, says that so far there is no supply problem.  But the French Mediterranean island of Corsica is facing a shortage in diesel.

And in the French city of Nantes, French television reported a number of gas stations were closed or rationing gas.

More than a million French took to the streets Tuesday to vent their anger at the proposed pension reforms according to French police.   French unions have vowed to harden their strikes.  But the government says it is determined to make the reforms law by the end of the month, Mr. Sarkozy says the changes are needed to reduce France's budget deficit.

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