France's eight largest labor unions met Oct. 21 to co-ordinate strategy for their nationwide protests against government plans to raise the minimum retirement age.
Bernard Thibault, head of the CGT, the biggest union which is strong in the ports, rail and trucking sectors, urged more strikes like the 24-hour strike on Tuesday that paralyzed ports and rails and closed a third of the nation's gas stations.
"There is no reason at all to stop. There is no other alternative while the government remains intransigent," he said on French radio.
“We need to continue with massive action as soon as next week. We will ask the unions for strong action that will enable people to stop work and go out on the streets," Thibault said.
French Strike news from JOC:
French Police Lift Oil Depot Blockades.
The next round of strikes is expected to take place on Oct. 26.
There are doubts over the response of workers to a strike call as France begins its half term school holidays on Friday and unions are wary that motorway blockades and fuel shortages will lose them popular support.
Polls show up to 70 percent of the French population support the strikes aimed at forcing the government to scale back plans to raise the retirement age to 62 from 60.
President Sarkozy today called for an end to the strikes and demonstrations. "We cannot be the only country in the world where, when there is reform, a minority wants to block everyone else."
A strike at the port of Marseille's Fos-Lavera oil terminal over planned changes in working conditions continued into a 25th consecutive day Oct. 21.
The Port Authority said 69 ships, mostly oil tankers and oil product carriers, are anchored offshore waiting to unload at France's biggest oil import terminal.
Meanwhile, the port of Le Havre said that, contrary to reports, it has only been hit by strikes over the pension reform and not by stoppages over the national port reform program.
The port, France's biggest container hub, said it hasn't suffered any damages from the strikes.
-- Contact Bruce Barnard at firstname.lastname@example.org.