Another friend said the garagiste in a village south of here wasn't willing to sell more than 10 euros' worth of diesel to any one customer. You know that's not much, with the gallon going for the equivalent of seven U.S. dollars or so.
Today might be the critical point in this whole showdown between the government and the labor unions over retirement pension reforms. It's the sixth journée de mobilisation in just a few weeks. If participation in demonstrations and marches starts to trail off, the government will be able to hold firm. If the size of the crowds continues to grow, all bets are off.
Walt and I are hunkered down. We don't need to go anywhere. We are waiting to see whether the porteuse de pain, the bread lady, will come by this morning. But it doesn't matter — we have bread, butter, milk, flour, sugar, and wine to last for a few days — not to mention all the garden produce that we have in freezer. It's not unusual for us to go 4 or 5 days without once taking the car out of the driveway.
Here are some tidbits from the news yesterday and this morning:
- Sales in French service stations have been up 50% over average levels since the fuel shortages became news — at least the ones that aren't à sec. That, in part, is why there are shortages.
- Some fuel storage depots around the country are still being blockaded by workers, but the government is try to keep them open, saying workers have the right to strike and demonstrate but not to blockade critical facilities.
- Fuel shortages (especially diesel) are worse in the west — Brittany, Pays de la Loire — and in Normandy, Provence, and the Ile de France (Paris area). Central France and the Southwest are less affected.
- About 1000 of the 13,000 or so service stations in France were experiencing some shortages yesterday, and some are totally closed down. The government says there is plenty of fuel in storage to keep France moving for several weeks. It's just a matter of getting it delivered to the service stations.
- Hundreds (out of many thousands) of high schools and some universities have been closed down by demonstrating students. Hooligans have taken advantage of the situation to vandalize shops and street fixtures (bus stops, things like that). Several hundred so-called casseurs were arrested across France yesterday.
- According to polls, 71% of the French people say they feel sympathetic toward the strikers. People seems to be saying that the retirement pension system definitely needs reforming, but they feel that the measures currently being debated and voted on in the French parliament and senate are not satisfactory. They want new reform proposals. The government says it's too late for new proposals, and doesn't seem ready to back down.