France's truck drivers are using their vehicles to block up to eight fuel depots in the latest move to oppose French President Emmanuel Macron's labor law reforms.
The truck drivers, from the General Confederation of Labor and Labor Force unions, set up some of the blockades as early as 5 a.m. throughout France.
The bulk of the blockades, according to The Local, are located in the far north of France with closures in and around Dunkirk, Lille, Lens and several other cities. Meanwhile, the French capital Paris is also hampered by the blockade with trucks amassed in front of the Port de Gennevilliers in the northern part of the city. Southern cities affected include Marseille, Montpellier and Provence.
Le Parisien newspaper reported that a blockade near Toulouse had been broken up by police earlier this morning.
The truck drivers are also staging a tactic known as “go slows,” which are intended to bring traffic to a virtual standstill on certain roadways throughout the nation.
Though the government has assured motorists that there's a sufficient stockpile of gas to ride out the protest action, it also warned that the risk of major disruption will likely increase if drivers panic and resort to buying large quantities of gas.
Fearing a loss of job security and the possibility of losing early retirement guarantees, the truck drivers are protesting in the latest in a series of demonstrations against Macron's neoliberal labor reforms which cut workplace protections and benefits.
Macron added fuel to the fire when he theorized that those who challenged his labor reforms were “lazy.” Government spokesperson Christophe Castaner tried to quell the inferno during an interview on RTL radio, explaining that the president didn't mean workers were “lazy,” but that he was referring to politicians who did nothing to modernize the country's labor laws for a "modern world."
In August, the French parliament adopted a bill allowing the government to fast-track changes to the labor code. While it gives employers more power to negotiate workers' conditions at a company level, rather than being bound by industry-wide agreements, employees can be dismissed more easily, without companies fearing prosecution at labor tribunals.
With nearly 3.5 million people out of work, former investment banker Macron claims the bill will give employers more incentives to hire workers if they can fire them without financial risk.