Europe

French discuss the pensions fuel blockade

France has begun importing electricity as protesters against pension reforms block fuel depots for a seventh day.

Millions of striking workers have poured on to the streets across France ahead of a vote on raising the retirement age later this week.

Here three French citizens explain how the strikes, protests and blockades have affected them and what they think of the reforms.

Laurence Baron-Gomez, Nantes

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There is no petrol left here. They tried to open the refineries and managed to remove all the students and protesters but then they just came back and the refineries had to close again.

To make things worse, every morning, protesters are blocking the main line of the town's tram system. The system only has three lines, so it means many of my friends are having to get to work by bike.

Everywhere I look there are lots of bikes and although I'm still driving to work, it is taking me much longer than usual.

As an English and IT teacher, I will definitely suffer financially from the strikes.

Next week, those students who have been managing to attend classes will have run out of petrol and won't be able to get here - and I will have to cancel lessons.

The carers and canteen staff at my 10-year-old son's school are on strike which means we can no longer drop him off early at 0730 and collect him late at 1800.

All the parents are having to rally round and help each other - sometimes I think it is a bit like the war!

My daughter is at university, so is looking after herself but has had to walk there and back a few times now - it takes 80 minutes each way.

I have a nasty feeling that Friday will be the worst day. They are gearing up for something big for sure.

But there will be no fights breaking out at petrol stations, as everyone I have spoken to is sympathetic with the protesters.

The problem is not that we will work until 65 or 67, it is the fact that the upper house of the legislature and the parliament are making no effort whatsoever over their golden pensions.

The French find this totally unjust and are striking because once again the government is asking them to work longer for less money, whereas they are working less for more money.

The French have had enough.

Sebastian Margetts, Rennes

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The city where I live is having lots of difficulties.

I decided over the weekend to stop using my car, as there is no petrol, and use public transport instead. But today I had to use my car to get to work, because there are no buses.

I ran out of petrol earlier and got stuck in a little town next to Rennes with no means of getting back. Luckily my boss came to pick me up.

Everything is blocked. Petrol stations are closed and barricaded with shopping trolleys. Bus depots are blocked with huge lorries.

I saw a lorry earlier parked across the road, so that nobody would be able to go through.

It is complete chaos. When people here decide to strike, they block the entrances to places, it is very radical.

I have seen lots of fights in the streets, which is not uncommon.

People take it all very seriously, but they also take advantage of the situation and some start drinking and creating trouble. I saw a man with a bloody nose this morning.

I am standing right next to a building which has been covered in graffiti. There is graffiti everywhere and the city is normally so nice.

People cannot go to work, which means they cannot earn money.

Most contracts here are on an hourly rate, so if you do not turn up for whatever the reason - you do not earn a wage.

I don't know how long this will continue but ordinary people are badly affected.

I was talking to someone who complained about the lack of petrol, but straight after that he said: "Still, I am happy they are blocking the petrol."

People in this country always take things to the streets and it always works. I am not so sure about it this time round.

The government seems to be putting on pressure and this situation cannot continue for too long - we need to work to live.

I guess it is like every strike - we need to wait it out, but I think people will get bored with it in the end.

Valerie Fauvel, Pithiviers

We live outside of the Ile-de-France department but work mainly in Paris and the suburbs. We have been completely taken hostage by protesters.

Me and my husband both work as English language teachers for companies and universities.

Our work is on a freelance basis, so when we do not work, we do not get paid.

All the petrol stations in Paris are empty and if this continues for too long, many people and companies will suffer. There are a few where you can buy fuel, but you have to queue for hours.

We are lucky because my parents live in a house near Paris, so for the moment we are staying with them. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't have been able to commute.

My husband and I are for the reform to increase the pension age, because we do not have any other choice. The reform will go through, the government will win.

These protests are useless. So many companies will go out of business because of them. People in the private sector are against this movement.

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