Labor strikes and protests dry out France’s fuel supply

Global Business

Labor strikes and protests dry out France's fuel supply

France has been forced to dip into emergency fuel reserves as protesters step up their opposition to the country’s reform. The government is determined to change labor laws to rescue an economy that’s spent years in the doldrums. And even though it’s offering concessions, the public mood appears to be hardening. 

CCTV America’s Owen Fairclough reports.

Labor strikes dries out France’s fuel supply

Labor strikes dries out France’s fuel supply

France has been forced to dip into emergency fuel reserves as protesters step up their opposition to the country’s reform. The government is determined to change labor laws to rescue an economy that’s spent years in the doldrums. And even though it’s offering concessions, the public mood appears to be hardening. CCTV America’s Owen Fairclough reports.

France is at a standstill as fuel stations across the country run dry. There are blockades at five of France’s eight refineries, while nearly a fifth of nuclear power output was cut by striking staff. 

For the past three days, the government has dipped into emergency reserves that contain enough fuel for nearly three months.

Anthony le Berre, of the CTG Union on strike, says paralyzing France is not the key objective.
 
“We have demands and we want to be heard,” le Berre said. “There is a government who wants to pass a law by force, giving an impression that this is no longer a democracy.”

But parts of France have been repeatedly paralyzed. This is just the latest nationwide industrial action over sweeping changes to labor laws, including loosening the 35-hour week and giving employers more freedom to tailor their own rules without unions.

Union leaders claim the reforms will simply help employers fire people without justification. The government insists it has the opposite intention and is prepared to renegotiate. 

The hardening of the public mood and fuel blockades are happening just two weeks before France welcomes around two and a half million football fans as the host of Euro 2016.

But lawmakers say there’s no threat to the energy supply. 

In 2010, France survived a three-week blockade of fuel refineries over raising the retirement age.

This time, the greater test is arguably for President Francois Hollande. He needs these reforms to kick-start the French economy before elections next year. 


Nationwide labor protests in France

Police in Paris fired tear gas at demonstrators – some responded with rocks and glass bottles. CCTV’s Elena Cass gave us this report.

Nationwide labor protests in France

Nationwide labor protests in France

Police in Paris fired tear gas at demonstrators - some responded with rocks and glass bottles. CCTV's Elena Cass gave us this report. According to official figures, an estimated 18,000 people took to the streets of Paris on Thursday, as well as thousands marching in cities across France. They're furious about a labor bill recently forced through the lower house of Parliament by the government without a vote and they have widespread support.

According to official figures, an estimated 18,000 people took to the streets of Paris on Thursday, as well as thousands marching in cities across France. They’re furious about a labor bill recently forced through the lower house of Parliament by the government without a vote and they have widespread support.

Union members have stopped work at oil refineries, nuclear power plants and transportation hubs. 

On France’s railways, the national train company said they are running three out of four long distance trains and six out of 10 regional ones despite the strike. It’s a different story for drivers on France’s roads, with all but two of the country’s oil refineries blocked by striking workers. France has been digging into its emergency fuel reserves since Monday.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls says he will not back down.