More protests in France as fears of fuel shortages grow
More than one million people were expected to protest throughout France on Saturday to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reform as a strike by transport and oil refinery workers went into its fifth day, DPA reported.
As a result of the strike, which has struck all 12 of France's refineries, fears grew that airports would soon run out of fuel. On Friday, fuel stopped running through a pipeline feeding Paris's two major airports, Orly and Charles de Gaulle.
While Orly has reserves for 17 days, the stockpiled fuel at Charles de Gaulle is expected to run dry by Monday or Tuesday, French media reported, citing a spokesman for the environment ministry.
In addition, train traffic remained disrupted throughout the country, with about half of all scheduled trains not operating Saturday, the state-run rail network SNCF said.
Demonstrations have been scheduled in some 230 cities and are likely to include large numbers of secondary-school students.
On Friday, more than 260 protesters were arrested and more than 20 police officers were injured when student demonstrations turned violent in several cities, France-Info radio reported.
The pension reform gradually raises the retirement age from 60 to 62 by the year 2018. It has already passed the National Assembly and is scheduled to be voted on in the Senate on Wednesday.
Unions have called for another nationwide day of strikes and demonstrations on Tuesday, just ahead of the Senate vote.