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France: Fuel depots reopen, but strikes rage on

France: Fuel depots reopen, but strikes rage on
Most fuel depots reopen, but strikes continue ahead of June 10 Senate session on controversial labor reforms

PARIS (AA) – Labor unrest lost a trump card with most of France’s fuel depots reopening, but unions vowed to keep fighting new rules that would make it easier for companies to hire and fire workers.

The French Transport Ministry said Saturday in a statement that 14 out 15 closed fuel depots have reopened, with the strike continuing at just one, the Donges Oil Station in the Loire-Atlantique region.

But France’s biggest worker’s confederation CGT vowed to continue with the strike until the draft labor reforms are withdrawn.

Separately, many videos showing police and security forces apparently using disproportionate force on labor protesters have attracted viewers and controversy.

In one of the videos captured on Thursday in Toulouse, a policeman is seen pushing a young woman from her shoulder and grabbing her by the neck before she falls to the ground.

French authorities ordered the removal of some of the videos showing police using violence on protesters, saying they posed a threat to security forces.

French media has been criticized in social media for not airing videos showing security forces using disproportionate force and for paying the issue little attention.

The reforms would give employers greater freedom to cut pay and lay off workers. They would also weaken unions’ power to negotiate with firms on issues such as working hours, which in France average 35 hours a week.

A wave of strikes began in the country last year over the controversial proposed labor reforms. Strikes at the country’s oil refineries created a significant shortage at petrol stations.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, one of the staunchest reform advocates, has insisted the reforms will not be withdrawn but could be slightly “modified”.

According to a poll by Odoxa research, 6 in 10 French people believe Valls will be unable to withstand the labor reform backlash. Sixty percent of French people believe the government will make changes to the reforms or abandon them.

The reform bill will reach the Senate on June 10. Labor unions want to extend strikes until that day and pressure the government to retreat.

The start of the UEFA European Championship - also on June 10, hosted this year in France - might add to the pressure. Many French analysts think the government will withdraw the reforms or at least the most contentious proposals in order to ensure the championship games are not disrupted.

source: News Feed
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