French dockworkers will walk off the job at midnight to join a 24-hour nationwide strike Oct. 19 against government plans to reform the state pension system.
France's freight transport system is already close to breakdown since truck drivers blocked major highways circling Paris and Lyon overnight and large numbers of rail workers stayed away from work Oct. 18.
Transport companies are facing further disruption as 12,500 gas stations across the country start to run out of supplies because strikers have closed France's 12 oil refineries for seven days and are blockading several of its 200 fuel depots.
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Refineries in the south of France were already running low on crude oil supplies as an unrelated strike at the port of Marseilles entered its third week Monday stranding 61 ships at the country's top oil import terminal.
The UFIP oil industry organization warned of serious supply problems by mid-week, which may prompt the government to tap its emergency reserve, which holds up to three months supply of fuel.
The French civil aviation authority has asked airlines to cut flights at Paris Orly, the country's second largest airport, by 50 percent and by 30 percent to all other airports amid fears airport workers will join the national strike.
Fears that Paris Charles de Gaulle, France's biggest airport and Europe's second largest cargo hub, would run out of fuel have eased as managers are maintaining a supply pipeline that had been closed by strikers.
The nationwide strike on Oct. 19, which follows a similar walkout last week, is taking place a day before the French Senate is due to vote on a government bill to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.
France's main ports, including Marseille, and Le Havre, the leading container hub, also have been disrupted by 48-hour strikes over the past three weekends as dockworkers protest the government's privatization of stevedoring operations previously handled by port authorities.
This has resulted in delays for container vessels, ferries and general cargo ships, prompting some carriers to divert to neighboring foreign ports in the Mediterranean and northwestern Europe.
Belgian ports, including Antwerp, are also facing disruption Monday as rail workers stage a 24-hour strike to protest reform of the rail cargo sector.
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