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Wednesday 22 November 2017

French truckers stage blockades over labour reforms

Members of the FO union install a blockade at La Mede Total refinery, in Chateauneuf-La Mede (AP/Claude Paris)
Members of the FO union install a blockade at La Mede Total refinery, in Chateauneuf-La Mede (AP/Claude Paris)

French truck drivers have staged road blockades near fuel depots across the country in protest over President Emmanuel Macron's changes to labour laws.

Two major unions, CGT and FO, called a nationwide protest because they fear the new rules Mr Macron formally signed last week will lead to a deterioration in working conditions and make it easier for firms to sack workers.

Fuel storage facilities in south-western France, in Normandy, near the southern city of Marseille and in the Paris region were blocked for several hours on Monday, but police soon intervened and allowed access in many places.

Government spokesman Christophe Castaner called on French drivers not to rush to petrol stations to avoid fuel shortages.

Protesters also organised an operation to slow down traffic on a major highway in northern France close to the Belgian border.

The transport ministry said in a statement the situation had returned to normal at noon.

"There's free access to almost all fuel depots," the ministry said in a statement.

"As a consequence, petrol stations are being supplied normally."

Mr Macron said the labour law changes are essential to reviving the French and European economies.

The measures aim to make it easier for firms to hire and fire, simplify negotiations between employers and employees, and reduce the power of national collective bargaining.

They are to be ratified by parliament and fully implemented by the end of the year.

AP

Press Association

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