French driving instructors protest against licence reform
PARIS, March 14, 2008 - Thousands of driver-training workers blockedtraffic across main French cities Thursday in a national day of action againstdriving-licence reforms. Instructors are protesting against possible changes to the system under anongoing government review which they say will restrict their earnings. According to organisers, some 5,000 vehicles tailing back two kilometres(1.25 miles) caused jams in Paris, although police said the figure was 1,100. Hundreds of vehicles organised lesser demonstrations in large cities suchas Lyon and Bordeaux, with support also coming from truckers in Marseille. "Our profession is in danger. The government wants to teach the highwaycode in schools and wants to cut the minimum number of (driving-instructor)hours required before sitting the test," said Georges Tassara, an instructorsunion representative. "The cost of obtaining a driving licence, around 1,200 euros (1,875dollars) is not excessively high compared to northern European countries,"said Jean-Louis Bouscaren, head of an instructors union. Patrick Ohaya, president of a driving school federation, called on thegovernment to increase the number of test inspectors, cutting down waitingtimes for repeat applicants. Federation members are also calling for reduced fuel taxes. Last month, thousands of taxis had staged a similar protest againstderegulation of their profession.