Lorry-drivers strike drains Corsica of petrol

16th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

BASTIA, Corsica, Sept 15 (AFP) - The French island of Corsica was running dry of petrol and diesel Thursday as a strike by fuel truck drivers stretched into its third day, union officials and local authorities said.

BASTIA, Corsica, Sept 15 (AFP) - The French island of Corsica was running dry of petrol and diesel Thursday as a strike by fuel truck drivers stretched into its third day, union officials and local authorities said.

Trucks were parked for kilometres along roads leading to ports on the French mainland serving the Mediterranean island as the transporters awaited an end to the dispute, triggered by the sacking of a driver following a traffic accident last month.

One of the striking drivers, Laurent Santoni, told AFP that a mediation effort between the boss of the sacked employee and government officials was to take place later Thursday.

"But even if there's a favourable outcome, we can't start filling the (service station) tanks before tomorrow morning (Friday)," Santoni said.

Virtually all fuel transport drivers in the northern half of Corsica have been observing the stoppage, which began Tuesday.

Service stations in that part of the island have run out of petrol after panicked motorists stocked up cars and jerrycans in anticipation of a drawn-out strike.

Truck drivers in the southern half of Corsica on Thursday began their own strike in support of their colleagues, spreading the effects across the whole island.

A local government official said "there is no emergency" and that hospitals and other public services were being supplied from strategic stocks. But he added that "if the situation continues, we could have the start of a penury in some sectors."

The 40-year-old driver at the centre of the dispute was sacked after his empty fuel truck, belonging to the company Corse Carburants, rolled over and plunged into a ravine near the main northern city of Bastia, causing a 12-hour traffic logjam.

The employee, who was slightly hurt, received a dismissal letter recently, and his boss, Xavier Gaffory, told Corsican radio that the driver was "a danger to society" who had been warned several times about speeding.

The drivers taking part in the strike have demanded that he be reinstated pending the conclusion of a police inquiry into the accident and that Gaffory apologise.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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