France: Pension Protests Crimp Fuel, Transport
October 19th, 2010
French refineries remained shut, trains were on half service, schools closed and gas stations ran dry as unions held their fourth strike in two months against President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to raise the retirement age.
Government ministers said France has enough fuel to last several weeks and that they’ll continue to use police to break up barricades at oil depots as about a fifth of the country’s 12,000 service stations carried signs saying they’d run out of fuel. The Senate is set to vote on the pension measure this week, giving final parliamentary approval to a plan to eliminate the retirement-system deficit by 2018.
Sarkozy, who has refused to retreat from his plan to increase the retirement age to 62 from 60, said he’d hold a series of meetings today to ensure that the country isn’t snarled by the strikes.
Related: Nuclear Power Plants Dropped Output by 3,000 Megawattshttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-19/edf-nuclear-output-drops-on-strike-amid-tight-supply-cgt-says.html
Striking workers at Electricite de France SA nuclear power plants cut output by about 3,000 megawatts as part of a national protest that paralyzed ports and refineries over a government plan to raise the retirement age.
Workers were told by the utility not to lower generation by more because of supply constraints due to cool weather and a relatively high number of atomic plants offline, CGT union spokeswoman Marie-Claire Cailletaud said.
Of EDF’s 58 reactors in France, 42 are operating and the country imported power yesterday, she said. French day-ahead power prices jumped to their highest since March 10 this year. The contract traded as high as 80.50 euros ($112.10) a megawatt- hour today in the over-the counter market via brokers.
French unions are leading a fourth national protest in two months to oppose President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to increase the retirement age to 62 from 60.
A walkout at the port of Marseille has blocked crude imports for more than three weeks while workers shut down two more crude import points at Le Havre and Nantes last week and have halted nearly all of the country’s refineries.
About a fifth of France’s 12,000 service stations have run out of fuel as consumers rush to fill their tanks.