Around 820 stations out of a total of 11,500 petrol stations in France have totally run out of fuel since Sunday and another 800 are short of at least one type of fuel.
France has been hit with a number of strikes and protest from fuel workers following President Francois Hollande’s announcement of labor market reforms on May 10, a move that unions perceive as unfavorable to workers.
The new law, if passed, will force employees to work longer than 35 hours and will make it easier for companies in financial crisis to lay off employees.
French workers blockaded oil refineries and depots earlier this week in protest against the sweeping changes enforced by the government.
Workers at six of the eight French oil refineries are on strike while over 1,600 pump stations have run out of fuel. The ensuing chaos has left British tourists stranded as their cars ran out of fuel and has started fights at petrol stations.
The government has urged the public not to panic, yet motorists across the country have ignored the pleas and formed long lines at gas stations to have their tanks filled. Yet even those who have been fortunate enough to get fuel from the exhausted stations have had their supply cut off after 20 liters.
Now restricted to 20 ltr max in rural Normandy, 5 ltr less than yesterday! https://t.co/opWiVrTipq— Sheelagh Gorham (@AgentFrancais) May 24, 2016
France’s economy minister Michel Sapin blasted the General Confederation of Labor unions for holding the country hostage and said the demonstrations were “not legal.”
Over 1,000 people have been arrested and 350 officers injured in protests which took a violent turn during the weekend. Last week police had to resort to tear gas and water cannons to disrupt a crowd of angry protesters, who set fire to a police squad car.
The French president has refused to bow down to the pressure against the labor reforms and firmly believes it will relieve France of its debilitating unemployment.
If protesters refuse to back down, the turmoil could continue during UEFA Euro 2016.