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Truckers Block Borders in France

January 10, 2000

PARIS (AP) _ Truckers blockaded highways and border crossings on Monday throughout France to protest rising gas prices and the government-backed shorter working week.

The protest, which began early Monday, snarled traffic across France, especially at border crossings and in northern cities. In some places, foreign trucks were blocked but private cars were allowed through.

In the Alps, truckers blocked the Frejus tunnel linking France and Italy by parking their vehicles at the foot of the tunnel’s access ramp.

At the border with Spain in the town of Biriatou, protesters slowed traffic in both directions. And 200 trucks filtered traffic at the Franco-Belgium frontier of Rekkem.

The strikes also affected northern port cities, such as Le Havre, and the border with Germany near Strasbourg.

Truck owners organized the strike to protest the government’s decision to implement a 35-hour workweek. The plan was designed to ease unemployment, but truck owners said it could hurt their ability to compete with trucking companies throughout Europe.

They also protested gasoline prices, which have climbed 30 percent since January last year.

In October, truckers blocked roads and highways as part of Europe-wide protests against plans to limit weekend driving in European Union countries.

French truckers are among Europe’s most militant. In November 1998, a strike disrupted France and snarled traffic with neighboring nations for five days. In 1996, truckers stopped work for 12 days.

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