The battle between French president Nicolas Sarkozy and leftwing protesters over pension reform intensified yesterday as the government admitted that the country's biggest airport might only have enough fuel to last until tomorrow night.
A statement from the ecology ministry said Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris had supplies that would last until tomorrow evening or Tuesday. It did not elaborate on what would happen after that.
In a bid to prevent people from panic-buying petrol, finance minister Christine Lagarde took to the airwaves to insist there was no shortage. "We have reserves for several weeks," she told French radio, saying only 230 of the country's 1,300 petrol stations were affected by industrial action.
Yesterday, as France's 12 refineries were blockaded, a million protesters demonstrated in Paris and other cities against Mr Sarkozy's raising of the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62.
Mr Sarkozy insists the changes are essential to prevent a €32bn pension shortfall growing to €50bn by 2020, and to provide for the future.
But trade unions say the plans to raise the age of retirement -- with a reduced-pension entitlement -- to 62 by 2018, and the age of full-pension entitlement from 65 to 67, are unfair. Opinion polls show that many French people believe the reform targets the most vulnerable: women, workers in hazardous jobs, and those who started working at a young age.