French airlines are bracing for a new round of strikes as labor unions prepare the sixth day of nationwide protests in the past month against President Nicholas Sarkozy’s pension reform bill, AP reports.
Strikes by truckers, refinery workers and workers at the country’s main gas and oil port, Fos-Lavera near Marseilles, have cut fuel deliveries. This has forced some 1000 gas stations to close and triggered waves of panic buying, according to the Wall Street Journal.
In response to fuel shortages, the French aviation authority DGAC has cancelled half the flights to Orly airport and one-third to Charles de Gaulle airport.
French labor union Confederation General du Travail (General Confederation of Workers, CGT) is calling on Air France KLM ground workers to join the strikes, which will further disrupt service, the Journal reports.
Meanwhile strikes at French power plants have reduced electricity production. CGT press officer Marie-Claire Cailletaud claims the nation’s power output has been reduced by 3,000 megawatts. "We don't plan to lower it further," she said, allaying fears of blackouts.
President Sarkozy remains firm in his support for the pension reform bill, which has already passed the lower House of Parliament. "This reform is essential, France is committed to it, and France will carry it out," Sarkozy said Monday, according to AP.
France’s current retirement age is 60. The bill would raise that to 62.