Los Angeles 10/15/2010 7:09:23 PM
French Strikes Into Fourth Day
French unions protesting against planned changes to the French pension system showed no signs of softening their stance on Friday, as demonstrations and industrial action dragged into a fourth day, raising concerns over fuel supplies as demonstrators continued targeting oil depots.
The country's leading labor unions are calling for nation-wide strikes and demonstrations on Sunday and Tuesday, one day prior to the crucial vote by the French Senate on the pension reform. Some workers in the energy and transport sectors have been out of work since Tuesday.
Production remained stalled at many of France's 12 crude refineries. Demonstrators tried to prevent supplies from leaving several storage sites on Thursday and Friday and police rushed to stop them, claim news reports.
Secretary of State for Transport Dominique Bussereau justified the police action in a series of interviews on radio.
“We can’t allow a shortage of fuel,” Bussereau said, adding that there wouldn't be any problems with the supply this week.
Meanwhile, the number of students joining the walkout against the planned reforms rose on Thursday, as many high schools were disrupted or blocked, said the Education Ministry. The Union nationale lycéenne, a French students' union, put the number at over 1,000. Students clashed with police officers at several locations, leading to many arrests, according to reports. The union has urged its members to stage a massive demonstration on Saturday.
Metro trains and buses ran normally in Paris, but commuter rail and some parts of the national train system remained disrupted.