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France

Petrol stations reopen as general strike drags on

©

Video by Eve IRVINE , Willy BRACCIANO

Latest update : 2009-02-15

Cars lined up for miles on Saturday morning in front of several petrol stations forced open by local government in order to stem havoc in the strike-hit Carribean island. A supermarket was also opened under heavy surveillance.

AFP - Petrol stations reopened Saturday in France's Caribbean island of Martinique, as local lawmakers called on unions to ease a 10-day strike paralysing the tourist paradise.
   
Cars waited in long queues as early as 4:00 am at service stations across the island after unions agreed to let them open.
   
Martinique and Guadeloupe have been the scene of protests over the high cost of living, while the Indian Ocean island of Reunion has threatened to join the movement.
   
President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Friday he was setting up a high-level council to address the worsening situation in Guadeloupe and Martinique.
   
Lawmakers negotiating with the union in Martinique called for the strike to be eased to "loosen the vise" on the population.
   
In Paris, the minister of overseas affairs, Yves Jego, met Saturday with the head of the Competition Authority, which he said would issue a report by the summer on the conditions of fuel and product distribution in overseas territories.
   
Jego said the government was "very willing" to help overseas economies but would be "very strict to uphold the rule of law."
   
Shops, cafes, banks, schools and government offices remained shut in the Caribbean islands while tourism, a mainstay of their economies, has taken a major hit from the general strike.
   
Hotels have shut down and charter flights been cancelled, mostly in Guadeloupe where the strike has crippled the island since January 20. Heaps of garbage are mounting in the streets after trash collectors walked off the job.
 

Date created : 2009-02-14

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