French fuel strikes: How could shortages affect British holidaymakers and Euro 2016?

French labour strikes are threatening to bring the country to a standstill by blockading fuel supplies.

Industrial action intensified on Thursday as nuclear plant staff and air traffic controllers joined strikes causing travel and business disruption.

We take a look at how fuel shortages could affect British tourists during half term and at Euro 2016.

A pump displays a placard that reads Credit: Reuters
  • What has happened?

A dispute between the French government and the country’s largest union over reforms of employment law has sparked protests across the country.

The militant CGT union federation has blockaded oil refineries and depots.

An estimated 50% of the country's 10,248 petrol stations have either run dry or are low on supplies.

Walkouts by nuclear plant staff and air traffic controllers caused further travel disruption on Thursday.

A number of flights from the UK were delayed or cancelled and ferry services from Portsmouth were cancelled.

Violent protests have also taken place in Paris and the western city of Nantes as demonstrations took place across the country.

  • Why are they striking?

Protesters barricade the entrance of the Donges refinery Credit: Reuters

The government is forcing through plans that will drastically change the labour laws.

They want to make hiring and firing easier, give firms greater freedom to reduce pay and give employers more leeway to negotiate holidays and special pay.

Employment is strongly regulated in France and the government hopes that relaxing regulations will encourage companies to take more people on if they know they can shed jobs in the case of a downturn.

The CGT has a strong presence in the transport and oil industries and has used its support to provoke a showdown with Hollande's government.

Its only demand is that the employment law reform should be scrapped.

  • Where is affected by the fuel shortages?

In some parts of the country motorists have had to queue for hours Credit: Reuters

Many swathes of the country are facing fuel shortages - especially in Paris, the west and the north.

Some of the worse stricken areas are around the Channel tunnel and ferry ports in northern France.

A map showing the areas affected Credit: penurie.mon-essence

A real time map shows filling stations affected across the country.

Protesters have blockaded some roads near refineries.

While the shortages initially seemed to be confined to northern France, the RAC says it is now receiving reports of problems in central, western and southern parts of the country.

  • How will it affect British holidaymakers and motorists?

Some of the worse stricken areas are around the Channel tunnel and ferry ports in northern France. Credit: Reuters

Many British families heading to France during half-term next week may face fuel shortages.

Half of the country's petrol stations are without or partially without fuel and the government has mobilised its reserves for the first time in six years.

In some parts of the country, motorists have had to queue for hours to fill up their tanks or been turned away.

Petrol and diesel is cheaper in France so many UK drivers often set off with low fuel and plan to fill up after crossing the Channel.

But the AA warned that this strategy could backfire.

Stations with fuel have been ordered by the government to limit motorists to €30 (£23) of petrol or diesel each to prevent shortages due to panic buying.

Simon Williams, the RAC's fuel spokesman, says: "Anyone currently in France is going to struggle to find fuel for their return journey and probably shouldn't even attempt to get home unless they can do so on one tank.

"We suspect finding somewhere to fill up in the worst affected areas will be extremely difficult."

  • Could it affect the Euros?

One former union leader has said the event is not 'sacred' Credit: Eufa

France will be hosting the final stage of the 15th UEFA European football championship from 10 June until 10 July, 2016.

With just two weeks to go until the tournament, there are fears that the dispute could worsen as neither side of the row appears to be willing to back down.

More than 500,000 fans from the UK alone are expected to cross the Channel – half of them without tickets.

One former union leader has said the event is not "sacred".

The CGT has called for two nationwide strikes to be held, the second of which is scheduled for 14 June - four days after the opening game.

There are mounting concerns the country's roads and rails could be disrupted and cause travel chaos for fans.