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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 4 April, 2020
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Police break blockade at oil depot near Paris

President Sarkozy refuses to change pension reform plans as the French senate prepares to vote.

French riot police officers secure the area at the Bordeaux train station, southwestern France, as a passenger arrive during a demonstration against pension reforms, on 22 October, 2010.
French riot police officers secure the area at the Bordeaux train station, southwestern France, as a passenger arrive during a demonstration against pension reforms, on 22 October, 2010.
Image: AP Photo/Bob Edme

FRENCH POLICE HAVE broken through a blockade outside a key oil refinery near Paris.

The French senate is due to vote on the unpopular pension reforms today, according to France24. The French parliament had passed the proposals last month.

Authorities issued a special order permitting police to compel workers at the oil refinery to return to work under threat of prosecution. However, one union representative said that they plan to challenge the legality of the order in court, saying: “It is a direct obstruction of our right to strike”.

AP reports that while the French Interior Minister said the refinery blockade was opened without incident, the CGT union said three workers had been injured.

Sarkozy’s unpopular plan sparked off a spate of public action which culminated this week in several consecutive days of demonstrations and strikes. Bloackades have caused petrol and electricity shortages, France24 reports.

Le Monde is hosting a real time map showing motorists where they can still access fuel. According to AP, about 20% of the country’s service stations are empty – down from the 40% level seen a few days ago.

Sarkozy refuses to budge

Meanwhile, President Sarkozy refuses to back down on introducing the reforms, which include raising the retirement age from 60 to 62. The Guardian reports that Sarkozy said the demonstrators “had no right taking the French people hostage”, and denounced student clashes with police.

The president’s popularity is at an all-time low, according to the Guardian, just 18 months ahead of a general election.

Some parts of the country have seen violence erupt amid the protests. French riot police have pursued demonstrators in Lyon, as seen in this NDTV report:

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