Friday, October 15, 2010

[olympiaworkers] Sarkozy sends in riot police as strikers cut off airport fuel supply

Oct. 15, 2010

Riot police were ordered on Friday to remove protesters from France's
refineries after filling stations started running out of fuel and supplies
to Paris airports were shut off.

Several hundred forecourts were out of supplies, according to the Union of
Independent Oil Importers. Workers were on strike in all 12 of the
country's oil refineries, for the first time since 1968 as opposition
hardened to Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reform.

It which will raise the legal retirement age from 60 to 62 and full
pension age from 65 to 67.

The country was braced for more mass protests on Saturday.

Officers launched a dawn raid to open the gates of Fos-Sur-Mer, in
Marseille, the principal fuel depot in southeastern France, along with
three others in Bassens and Lespinasse in the south-west and Cournon
d'Auvergne in the centre of the country.

Workers belonging to the main CGT union said they were under orders not to

The refinery stoppages caused the closure of a fuel pipeline feeding the
south of Paris and the Orly and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airports. Orly
has two weeks of kerosene but Roissy has enough for only a few days.

In a further sign of escalation, Air France protesters shut a terminal at
Orly and lorry drivers said they would block roads.

France's main unions have upped the stakes in their battle against the
reform, currently being debated in the Senate, by calling a fifth street
rally in just over a month on Saturday and another on Tuesday.

Strikes and demonstrations around the country brought more than a million
people on to the streets last Tuesday, and workers in sectors including
rail and energy have kept up stoppages since.

Besides rolling strikes, the government is concerned about secondary
school protests, which turned ugly on Friday. A policeman was injured by
pupils throwing stones in Cannes and surgeons tried to save the sight of a
16 year-old boy hit by a police "Flash-Ball", a gun that fires a soft
rubber ball, in a Paris suburb. Some 300 schools were affected.

Polls show the unions have massive public support. "The government is
betting on this movement deteriorating, even breaking down. I think we
have the means to disappoint them," said Bernard Thibault, leader of the

Mr Sarkozy, however, has shown no sign of backing off.

He sees the reform as key to his re-election in 2012 and is understood to
have told aides: "If we must face a long strike, we'll do it. A part of
the country will be thankful that we brought the extremists to their
knees. We can still win the battle of public opinion."

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