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Video by Claire BONNICHON , Sarah Dryhurst

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-10-25

Strikers restored a blockade at a major fuel depot in the south of France on Monday, in fresh opposition to President Nicolas Sarkozy's unpopular pension reform. A quarter of France's petrol stations continue to run dry.

AFP - The cat and mouse game between strikers and police continued in France early Monday, with dockers restoring their blockade on a big fuel depot in the south and a central depot being unblocked.

Overall, at present, one in four petrol stations are not being supplied. Will the situation worsen? No. Will the situation improve? Yes, but slowly, progressively, because great logistical efforts are needed to take the fuel from where it is to where it needs to go.

Raymond Soubie, advisor to President Nicolas Sarkozy (on French radio Europe 1. Oct. 24, 2010. Watch Europe 1 video

The oil depot at Fos-sur-Mer, the biggest in the south of France, was back in the hands of union members opposed to President Nicolas Sarkozy's plans to raise France's retirement age, an AFP photographer said.

Some 200 demonstrators blocked off several petrol (gasoline) tankers as riot police looked on.

Meanwhile the depot at Saint-Pierre-des Corps near Tours in central France was freed after a week of paralysis, several sources said. The 30-odd people blocking the facility left without incident.

Sarkozy hopes to put his titanic battle to raise France's retirement age behind him this week by signing the measure into law despite a new wave of strikes, rallies and fuel blockades.

With thousands of families heading off for school half-term holidays, and lawmakers expected to give the pensions bill their formal final approval on Wednesday, Sarkozy hopes the mass protest movement will die away.

But, with Sunday newspaper opinion polls showing the embattled president more unpopular than ever, trade unions and student bodies have declared at least two more days of action, and strikes continue in the key fuel sector.

One petrol station in four around the country has run dry, amid strikes at refineries and blockades of fuel depots by strikers playing a cat and mouse game with riot police sent to disperse them.

Date created : 2010-10-25


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