Five of France's 12 refineries resume work: minister

26th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

Five of France's 12 mainland refineries were back up and running Tuesday after a period in which strikes shut them all down and caused fuel shortages, Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said.

"We now have five refineries that have decided to resume work," Hortefeux told reporters after a meeting with ministers. "That means that the return to normal is gradual but steady."

France has suffered severe fuel shortages, with up to a quarter of filling stations running dry, since the launch this month of nationwide protests by workers battling to defend the right to retire at 60.

The first refinery workers began to end their strikes on Monday but it can take several days for a refinery's operations to return to full capacity.

"The November 1 weekend holiday is a concern but measures have been taken to make up for it," Hortefeux said.

At the height of the shut-downs last week the government had ordered police to break through lines of protestors at fuel depots and issued legal orders from some staff at some of them to return to work.

"If we must carry out new requisitions, we will not hesitate to," Hortefeux said Tuesday.

© 2010 AFP

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