French oil refineries blocked as workers protest against pension reforms

Paris/London (CNN) Workers blocked oil refineries across France on Tuesday in the sixth mass protest this year against government plans to raise the retirement age.

Schools, airports and trains were also disrupted by the strike as the country’s largest union, the CGT, urged people to “stop France”.

Paris is expected to bear the brunt of the protests, as most metro lines only operate during peak hours, according to the city’s transport agency RATP. The main education trade union FSU said on Sunday that 120 schools would remain closed for the day. And 60% of primary school teachers in the French capital will be on strike.

Meanwhile, France’s civil aviation authority has asked airlines to reduce scheduled flights at Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports in Paris by 20% and 30% respectively. Air France said about 20% of short-haul flights would be cancelled, but long-haul services would remain. However, the airline cautioned that “last-minute delays and cancellations cannot be ruled out.”

National railway operator SNCF said very few regional trains would operate and four out of five trains on the TGV, France’s intercity high-speed rail service, would be cancelled.

The cancellations are already affecting Eurostar trains connecting major European capitals, including those between London and Paris and London and Amsterdam due for disruption until Wednesday.

Fuel delivery at gas stations may also be affected. Eric Cellini of the main oil industry union CGT-Chimei told CNN that workers were preventing shipments from leaving oil refineries across the country. Cellini said blockades at some refineries would continue until the end of the week.

total energy ,TOT, confirmed that shipments from its refineries had been blocked on Tuesday, but said stocks at gas stations remained high. “Our teams are working to meet a demand that may be stronger than usual and we have additional logistics resources,” the company said in a statement.

strike ‘move up a gear’

Hundreds of thousands of protesters will gather in more than 260 locations across France later on Tuesday, according to BFMTV.

CGT secretary general Philippe Martinez said in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche on Sunday that the unions were “going up a gear” and that he expected “mobilisations to continue and increase until the government listens to the workers. “

France has faced several strikes this year as workers rail against President Emmanuel Macron’s planned pension reforms. The reforms will gradually raise the age at which most French citizens can receive the state pension from 62 to 64.

A record 1.3 million people attended demonstrations on 19 January, which brought the country to a standstill and closed the Eiffel Tower to visitors.

The government has talked about pension The legislation is necessary to tackle the funding shortfall, but the reforms have angered workers at a time when the cost of living is rising.

The law is currently before French lawmakers, with a vote on a final version of the text expected later this month.

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