French docks, oil refineries, power stations hit by wave of pension protests

AP - Lewis Joly

The national strike to protest pension reform got back under way in France on Thursday, with the CGT trade union calling on port and power workers, as well as those in the refinery and petrol distribution sector, to down tools in opposition to government plans to abolish special pension deals for some workers.

With the second in a planned series of nationwide strikes due next Tuesday and Wednesday, French energy, fuel and dock workers who are members of the CGT union relaunched their industrial action on Thursday.

Facilities will be closed for 48 hours, depending on the local level of support.

The CGT says the oil distribution depot in Flandre in the north of France is completely shut down, with 80 percent of workers heeding the strike call in the refinery in Normandy.

Oil imports have been blocked by strikers in some French ports, according to trade union sources. The port strikes are scheduled to last 24 hours.

Thursday's strikers have promised to "relight the flame of protest" which, according to union sources, saw two million demonstrators against pension reform across France earlier this month.

Power cuts and petrol shortages are unlikely to result from the current phase of strike action, though electricity production may have to be slightly reduced. Queues of worried motorists were forming outside some Paris petrol stations early on Thursday.

Political debate begins on Monday

The disputed legislation, which will be presented to parliament on Monday for debate, includes clauses which would abolish the special pension rights of workers, notably in the electricity generation sector.


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