All French oil refineries on strike Friday: unions

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Workers at all 12 French oil refineries were on strike Friday as protests against government pension reform plans spread, unions and management said.

Refineries at Port-Jerome Gravenchon in northwestern France and Reichstett in the east joined in the strike action on Friday, as the pipeline to Paris's main airports was shut off owing to a lack of fuel.

The CFDT union said that the strikers at Reichstett were also demanding answers on the refinery's future from the Swiss group Petroplus, which is trying to sell the site.

The CGT union's Total branch said that French refineries have not seen industrial action on such a scale since the famous protests of 1968.

French police moved in to reopen fuel depots, but strikers threw up new pickets at other distribution centres, heightening fears of imminent shortages.

France's main unions have upped the ante in their fight against pension reform, calling for their members and supporters to hold the fifth in a series of strikes and street rallies next Tuesday.

The last national protest on October 12 brought more than a million people on to the streets and another major day of action is planned for Saturday, but the government shows no sign of backing down.

© 2010 AFP

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