Europe News

France faces shortages at gas stations as labor reform protests bite

Jessica Hartogs, Special to
France faces fuel shortages amid labor reform protests

France is facing fuel shortages across the north and west of the country as protests against labor law reforms rock the nation.

Over 820 stations out of a total of 11,500 gas stations in France were out of fuel on Sunday and another 800 were lacking at least one type of fuel, announced Transport Minister Alain Vidalies, according to several media reports.

Truck drivers belonging to trade unions have also blocked delivery to gas stations across the country from four of France's eight refineries.

Union members and students are protesting against laws passed by decree this month by President Hollande's government aimed at reforming the country's notoriously inflexible workers' rights – including making changes to the 35-hour work week and making it easier for small businesses to hire and fire employees.

Francois Hollande and Manuel Valls
France’s Hollande enrages opposition by scrapping 35-hour week

Nonetheless, since February, the French government has already watered down its suggested changes significantly due to the often violent protests – but protesters are still unhappy with the proposed changes.

The government says reforming the country's employment laws will free up businesses to offer more permanent contracts. Currently, the majority of new French private-sector jobs are on short-term contracts.

Many blame France's unemployment rate on this, which currently stands at an 18-year high of more than 10.2 percent with almost one in four under-25s unemployed, according to the European statistics service Eurostat.