French trade unionists blocked access to several fuel depots in protest against an overhaul of employment laws, seeking to test the government's will to reform the economy. Laura Frykberg reports.
Reforming French labour laws has ignited anger from trade unions for weeks. In a sign that perhaps the government's losing patience. This latest protest was stopped not long after it started, to guarantee fuel supplies. (SOUNDBITE) (French) TRUCK DRIVER ON STRIKE, HERVE, SAYING: "It's rather difficult because the police were on site before we arrived. They took over the site, and we could no longer spread out. Our right to strike has been trampled." President Emmanuel Macron is passing new labour reforms this week.. They include capping workers' payouts when they're dismissed. And making it easier for firms to hire and fire them. The leader, who was elected in June.. Has also vowed to bring down France's debt. The highest in the world among developed countries. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER, CCLA INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, JAMES BEVAN, SAYING: "He was elected on the basis that he would introduce and push through reforms that were necessary to create real wealth within France. Any backsliding will be bad news for him, bad news for France and bad news for the euro zone." There is no sign of that yet. But pressure is building. At the weekend his now biggest rival.. The far-left Jean-Luc Melenchon drew tens of thousands to a rally.. Calling for unions to 'keep up the fight'. All signs here, are they're listening. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FORCE OUVRIERE (FO) UNION MEMBER, PATRICE CLOS, SAYING: "Our goal is to carry out an action to block the economy of the country. The labour reforms will hit the wallets of the workers of this country. So we also want to hit the country's economy." The Bank of France says the country's economic growth could reach 1.7 percent for the year... But that's not likely to appease these protesters Who're already working on their next rally. This time they say they'll keep it secret... to make sure it lasts a little longer.