Strike cuts fuel for hundreds of French petrol stations

Authorities say no fuel depots blocked but several were operating at reduced capacity ahead of busy weekend.

    The strike was being felt at a growing number of filling stations exacerbated by panicking drivers [EPA]
    The strike was being felt at a growing number of filling stations exacerbated by panicking drivers [EPA]

    Hundreds of filling stations in France continue to run dry as a strike by tanker drivers stretched into its sixth day.

    There are around 11,000 filling stations in France. Around 400 stations, mostly in the Paris area, had no fuel at all and another 800 had dwindling stocks, according to unions and the consumer app mon-essence.fr.

    Authorities said no fuel depots had been blocked, but several were operating at reduced capacity.

    Panicking drivers rushed to fill up their vehicles ahead of a holiday weekend.

    The wave of strikes over the past week started in protest of President Francois Hollande's government forcing unpopular labour market reforms through the lower house of parliament without a vote.

    UFIP, the oil industry federation, urged drivers not to besiege filling stations.

    READ MORE: France on strike - Refineries blockaded by protesters

    Government spokesman Christophe Castaner echoed the appeal on Wednesday, saying the pumps "have all been re-supplied as normal" but that panic buying was causing problems.

    A year ago, workers striking against labour market reforms blocked access to fuel depots across France, forcing the government to dip into oil reserves to ease shortages in the build-up to the Euro 2016 football championships taking place in the country.

    In the current strike, tanker drivers want their working day to be limited to 10 hours and are also demanding increased medical checks and pay due to the often hazardous nature of the products they are transporting.

    "Our aim is to have a meaningful sign from the authorities before deciding how the strike unfolds," said Fabrice Michaud of the transport branch of the CGT union.

    "We also hope to convince other unions to come to the negotiating table," he added.

    Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said in a statement that there was no widespread shortage beyond supply difficulties in certain areas. She urged consumers not to cede to panic buying and maintain their usual consumption patterns.

    SOURCE: News agencies


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