- Title: FRANCE: Striking oil refinery workers in Granpuits prepare for police onslaught
- Date: 21st October 2010
- Summary: GRANDPUITS, FRANCE (OCTOBER 20, 2010) (REUTERS) GRANDPUITS REFINERY, SMOKE BILLOWING FROM PICKETS' BRAZIERS OUTSIDE (SOUNDBITE) (French) UNIDENTIFIED UNION LEADER, SPEAKING OFF CAMERA TO LARGE CROWD, SAYING: "Mr Sarkozy is not listening to the millions of French people who refuse his reform, and we ask him once more to take another look at it." STRIKERS CLAPPING CROWD (SOUNDBITE) (French) CHARLES FOULARD, A SENIOR MEMBER OF THE CGT UNION, SAYING: "We didn't realise that we were in a state of siege, even less in a state of war. Unless you're talking of the war that Mr Sarkozy is waging on social protection and on the pensions system. Workers have been requisitioned, threatened with prison. Clearly this is a complete breach of the right to strike. It's a denial of the right to strike. It's unacceptable. That would mean that the employees in the energy sector can no longer defend themselves or make their demands felt. Why not cut salaries while we're at it?'' GRAFFITI ON GATE READING 'ON STRIKE' (SOUNDBITE) (French) CHARLES FOULARD, A SENIOR MEMBER OF THE CGT UNION, SAYING: "We have to defend this democracy. Mr Sarkozy is not a democrat. He's a fascist." FLAGS PICKET LINE TYRES READIED TO BE SET ALIGHT BURNING PALLETS, STRIKERS STRIKER FLAGS HELICOPTER FLYING OVERHEAD REFINERY AT SUNSET
- Embargoed: 5th November 2010 12:00
- Location: France
- Country: France
- Topics: Industry,Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA72F1QGABKZ7SHZ3HMXSE0R7ZX
- Story Text: Tired, tense and dejected, France's striking refiners awaited on Wednesday night (October 20) the arrival of police forces at their barricades, saying a confrontation was inevitable now that President Nicolas Sarkozy had ordered the lifting of their barricades.
Piles of tyres stood ready to be set alight and union officials delivered last-minute pep talks, a sense of fearful apprehension almost palpable on the picket lines that have contributed to starving more than 3000 petrol stations of fuel and sparking shortages not seen since 1968.
As the sun went down over Grandpuits refinery southeast of Paris, union officials were still talking tough, but gave a sense that they would not be able to hold out long.
Talk of war was in the air.
"We didn't realise that we were in a state of siege, even less in a state of war. Unless you're talking of the war that Mr Sarkozy is waging on social protection and on the pensions system," Charles Foulard, a senior member with the CGT trade union, said.
The government says pension reform and the two-year increase in the retirement age that comes with it is unavoidable. Unions say the government should tax the rich more, not make workers work longer.
Ministers have accused energy sector workers of holding the country to ransom by sparking panic buying and fuel shortages and have vowed to get the fuel flowing in a matter of days.
As the sun set over Grandpuits refinery, one was left wondering whether it would also be the dusk for a movement that has played its role in driving Sarkozy's ratings to record lows.
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