France has begun using its fuel reserves to deal with gasoline shortages caused by strikes and protests over a divisive labor reform.

The head of the group overseeing France's petroleum industry, Francis Duseux, said Wednesday on RMC radio that the government has approved the use of fuel stocks for the past two days.

Duseux said there are about three months of reserves. He acknowledged "the situation is tense" but attributed it to panic buying.

Riot police forced striking workers out of a fuel depot early Wednesday in Douchy-les-Mines in northern France that had been blocked for several days, Sud union member Willy Dans said on BFM television.

Unions have blocked depots and refineries around France to try to force the government to abandon a bill that weakens worker protections.