Pension reform plans are at the heart of a second day of strikes, which has caused transport troubles all over France. Tuesday was the largest strike so far in the campaign to pressure the government over its pension reforms, and several unions say that they may continue the service stoppages indefinitely, or until some dialogue can be achieved with the government.
Rails services are minimal, and strikes at six of the nation’s Total oil refineries forced them to close operations, pushing fears of imminent fuel shortages.
Total has seen 11 out of its 12 refineries affected by the recent strikes, but it maintains that it has enough fuel in reserve to continue supplying fuel stations in France.
Tuesday was the third general strike this month. Unions said that the turnout of protestors was over 3 million, while police say that a more moderate 1.2 million people turned out on the streets in protest.
Unions are striking against the planned pension reforms of French President Nicolas Sarkozy to raise the pension retirement age to 62 from 60, and raise the age of eligibility for a full state pension from 65 to 67.
Despite analyst saying that this is one of the biggest challenges the administration has ever faced, it is determined to not back down, saying that the current pension arrangements are unsustainable and need to be overhauled.
Senate is yet to approve the reforms, which have already passed in the Lower House of the French Parliament.