PARIS – The Latest on France's strikes and protests against the government's labor reforms (all times local):
French drivers are hunting for gasoline or waiting in long lines to get it — and grumbling about strikes that are causing fuel shortages.
Fouad Rharib, in line Wednesday at a crowded gas station on the western edge of Paris, says "our two cars are on the minimum level of petrol and we need to drive our children to school and to go at work. ... it is unacceptable."
Another customer, Olivier Criq, expressed support for the labor protests but not the fuel strikes. He says "I agree with the right to strike, but I don't agree with the blockade. They can go to block government ministries and the (president's) Elysee palace. It is not normal that the French people are being held hostage like this."
Unions are leading strikes at fuel depots and refineries as part of a nationwide labor movement against a government labor reform bill that extends the work week and makes layoffs easier.
France has started using its fuel reserves to deal with gasoline shortages caused by strikes and protests over a bill weakening worker protections.
Unions are targeting the nation's gas tanks, railroads and electricity network this week as they try to push the government to drop the labor reform, devised to make France more globally competitive by extending the work week and making layoffs easier. Opponents say it will enrich company bosses and won't create the jobs it promises.
The head of the group overseeing France's petroleum industry, UFIP, said Wednesday on RMC radio the government has approved the use of fuel stocks for the past two days.
Francis Duseux said there are about three months of reserves that could be used if needed. He acknowledged "the situation is tense" but attributed it to panic buying. "Demand is so high that we aren't managing to keep up," he said.
Unions have blocked depots and refineries around France to try to bring road traffic to a halt. Workers at a major oil terminal in the port of Le Havre plan a strike Thursday to block imports.
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 tells BFM television.
Meanwhile, train drivers also are staging a one-day strike Wednesday. The SNCF national rail authority said 25 percent of high-speed TGV trains have been were cancelled, and a similar number of regional and commuter trains are affected.
And workers at the country's nuclear plants — source of the majority of France's electricity — plan a one-day strike Thursday. State-run Electricite de France would not comment on the eventual consequences for electricity supplies around the country.