More French Chaos Looms

Sep 8th, 2000, 02:01 AM
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Spreading to the UK now !

Protests against fuel prices have also spread to Britain where farmers and lorry drivers have copied their French counterparts by blockading a refinery in the north-west of England.

A spokesman for the British farmers said on Friday the protests would spread to other parts of the country.

Since the French protests began on Monday, the authorities have been forced to introduce fuel rationing in many areas - up to four-fifths of French petrol stations are now dry.

Sep 8th, 2000, 08:36 AM
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Another update.....

France's main lorry drivers' union, the FNTR, says it is calling off its five-day blockade of oil installations.
The announcement followed overnight talks at the Transport Ministry, as protests over soaring fuel prices continue to cause massive disruption across France.

"Work will start again, business life will resume," said FNTR president Rene Petit.

French farmers, who are blocking the main road to the Channel Tunnel for a second day, have threatened to take over the blockades if the lorry drivers pull out.

And a smaller truckers' union, Unostra, says it will continue its protest action.

Some 80% of French petrol stations are reported to be out of action and French airports are beginning to cancel internal flights because of serious fuel shortages.

Sep 8th, 2000, 09:58 AM
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- 800AD Charlemagne, King of the Franks, becomes Holy Roman Emperor and rules most of Western Europe.
- In 1066 William leads the Normans and other Frenchmen in a conquest of England.
- At the beginning of the 19th century, Napoleon conquers most of Europe.
- In 2000, the French FINALLY conquer ... France!

(ok, so I'm being silly, but it IS amusing from a distance.)
Sep 8th, 2000, 10:38 AM
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latest from bbcHopes that France's crippling fuel blockade was about to be lifted have been dashed after members of the main road hauliers' federation defied their leader's call to end their protest.
The union, the FNTR, declared on Friday morning it was calling off its five-day protest, after overnight talks at the Transport Ministry led to the acceptance of a deal which had originally been thrown out two days earlier.

But the majority of the truck owners are now reported to have rejected the settlement. Some have turned their fire on their leaders, demanding that they should resign for settling for too little.

In the UK, lorry drivers have also begun protest action - staging demonstrations outside an oil refinery and forcing a go-slow on one of the busiest routes, the A1.

The French truck owners are thought to be holding out for a 20% cut in diesel fuel tax. The government has offered a 15% reduction.

Members of a second transport union, Unostra, also look set to continue the action, along with farmers.

The General-Secretary of the French Farmers' Union, Yves Salmon, told the BBC that he expected the farmers' protests to spread, and "they are still determined".

Internal flights

The blockades have brought massive disruption across France. Some 80% of petrol stations are believed to have run dry, and airports are beginning to cancel internal flights because of fuel shortages.

Farmers have been blocking the main road to the Channel Tunnel for a second day, causing traffic chaos.

Earlier the FNTR had sounded optimistic that the deal would stick.

"Work will start again, business life will resume," said union president Rene Petit.

A union spokeswoman confirmed to the BBC that the deal accepted by the leadership on Friday was essentially the same as the one turned down two days ago, but the details had been clarified.

She also said the union was confident its members would heed Mr Petit's call to end the dispute.

More than four fifths of France's petrol station are dry

"I think if Mr Petit asks for the end of blockades everyone will follow him," she said.

Meanwhile, the head of the taxi drivers' union, which joined the protests on Thursday, said there had been a compromise.

The drivers have agreed to a 4.5% increase in the prices they are allowed to charge, starting next month.

Fuel tax in France is the second highest in the 15-nation European Union, after the UK. Oil prices have soared to their highest level since the 1991 Gulf War.

Fuel rationing

Since the French protests began on Monday, the authorities have been forced to introduce fuel rationing in many areas.

At two regional airports - Nantes and Rennes - the fuel tanks are dry, while supplies are low at Nice, Lyon and Marseilles.


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