France Fuel Shortage Feared as Strikes Spread

A fuel shortage loomed in France as massive strikes to protest President Nicolas Sarkozy‘s proposed retirement reforms have affected work at oil refineries, forcing many gasoline stations to stop operations.

Authorities said close to 1500 fuel stations have closed or are about to stop operations. Workers at oil refineries have ignored government calls to end the strikes, which have become more widespread as truck drivers and youth groups joined the protests. The Interior Ministry has stepped in to help avert a fuel crisis by forming a crisis coordination center that would try to convince oil workers to end the strikes.

The lack of fuel supply has led to long lines at gas stations across the country, while aviation authorities urged airlines to ensure that their planes carry enough fuel. The government also called on airlines to reduce the number of international flights as more strikes are expected on Tuesday.

The strikes have stemmed from Sarkozy’s plan to increase retirement age from 60 to 62, a move that the government deems necessary to save a financially depleted pension system. However, protesters believe that increasing the retirement age would greatly affect the high quality of life that France has been known for.