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In pictures: France resorts to humour amid fury over fuel shortage

Charly Triballeau, AFP | French motorists queue at a petrol station in Gonfreville-l'Orcher, in northern France, on May 23, 2016.

French motorists on Tuesday confronted unusually long queues at petrol stations as labour unions stepped up strikes at the country’s oil refineries. Many expressed their alarm on social networks while others poked fun at the situation.

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Alain Vidalies, France’s junior minister for transport, on Sunday brushed off concerns that the country could experience widespread fuel shortages as unions intensified protests against contested labour reforms.

“There will be no shortage,” Vidalies told France 2 television. “Only one out of five stations is experiencing difficulties.”

As if challenging the French government’s appeal for calm, thousands of motorists have started posting photos of cars queuing along roads and snaking around parking areas while they wait for their turn at the petrol pump.

Some said their vehicles were running on fumes, while others were filling up because they expect shortages to become worse.

Indeed, both France’s Socialist government and trade unions have sharpened their rhetoric on Tuesday, suggesting a drawn-out tug-of-war.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls accused the CGT union of “blackmailing” the country, while the powerful workers’ confederation itself called on its members to widen strike actions.

Major queue at petrol station in Nord-Ardèche

Environmentally conscious Internet users seized the opportunity to criticise fuel dependency.

While others turned to humour to lighten the wait.

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