French Truck Blockades Continue
January 11, 2000
French truck owners continued their blockade of key roadways for a second day Tuesday to protest diesel prices and a 35-hour work week.
The protest initially was expected to last only one day. Blockades at some points were briefly lifted Monday night, but they were back in place within hours. About 70 roadblocks were in place by mid-morning, slightly more than Monday. There was no movement for at least 12 hours Tuesday on the Belgian and Italian borders, according to published reports.
The French government said Tuesday morning that the 35-hour restriction will not go into full force for truckers until 2004. However, truckers say their business will suffer because the shorter work week will make them less competitive with truckers based in other European countries.
Hundreds of foreign trucks have been stuck at the roadblocks. The European commission is threatening to fine France if the strike continues, saying the French government has not done much to resolve the conflict. Britain said it would ask the French government to ensure free passage for foreign truckers. The English trucking industry is condemning the French truckers' action because it unfairly penalizes drivers from other countries.