French police force open fuel depot amid protests, shortages

The Associated Press

 

French police have dislodged protesters blocking a key fuel depot on the Mediterranean, as gasoline shortages spread around the country amid increasingly tense labor actions.

Cars manoeuvre between the remaining barricade used by striking workers to block the entrance at the refinery in Fos sur Mer, southern France, Tuesday, May 24, 2016. French police have dislodged protesters blocking a key fuel depot on the Mediterranean, as gasoline shortages spread around the country amid increasingly tense labor actions. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

PARIS (AP) — French police have dislodged protesters blocking a key fuel depot on the Mediterranean, as gasoline shortages spread around the country amid increasingly tense labor actions.

The CGT union reacted angrily to the overnight police advance on the depot at Fos-sur-Mer, where trucks resumed traffic Tuesday morning. Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Europe-1 radio that the site was "liberated" after days of blockades.

"Other sites will be liberated," he said. "I'm very determined."

The striking workers are determined too, pledging to keep fighting until the government withdraws its disputed labor reforms. The government is trying to rejigger rules governing the work week, overtime pay and other labor protections, something opponents say will weaken protections without promoting job creation.

The junior minister for transport, Alain Vidalies, said on i-Tele television that 20 percent of gas stations around the country are facing shortages as of Tuesday morning and unions are threatening to stop production at all of France's eight refineries.

Consumers, meanwhile, are throwing themselves at the pumps in anticipation of further problems. France's BFMTV even broadcast images of French drivers crossing the border to fill up in Belgium.

 

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