Tensions rise as French gas stations run dry

A massive strike over new labor laws could lead to a fuel shortage in France.

Labor unions, including the CGT and the FO, are protesting a set of laws that would make a number of unpopular changes, including reducing how much employees can get paid for working overtime, and making it easier for companies to hire and fire staff in certain circumstances. Union members are blocking oil refineries and fuel depots across the nation as a form of protest.

Many fuel stations are consequently running out of gasoline, diesel, or both. While the ones that still have fuel left to sell manage to stay open — sometimes by limiting how many gallons motorists can buy — the ones that are completely dry are forced to close indefinitely. The shortages started in the north and in the west of the country, but they’ve spread from border to border. All told, nearly a quarter of the nation’s gas stations are affected by the strike in one way or another.

Fuel shortage France
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends
Ronan Glon/Digital Trends

Filling up at the stations that still have gas to sell usually involves waiting in line for 15 or 20 minutes. A gas station attendant in Velaux, a small town situated about half an hour outside of Marseilles in the south of the country, told Digital Trends that the atmosphere is usually tense, and several verbal and physical arguments have broken out in the region over who gets the last drop of gas.

Commuters are carpooling or using public transportation to get to work, but the situation is about to get a lot more complicated. The SNCF, France’s railway company, will go on strike tomorrow, and the RATP, Paris’ public transport operator, has announced plans to strike indefinitely starting on June 2, according to radio station Europe 1. Both are protesting the same labor laws as the refinery workers.

What’s next?

The French government and the unions are blaming each other for the strike, and they’re holding their ground. Police forces were nonetheless sent to break up a blockade outside of the refinery in Fos-sur-Mer, a port in the south of the nation. Seven police officers and a handful of protesters — the exact number hasn’t been announced yet — were injured during the clashes that ensued.

The conflict could have a much broader effect than a short-term fuel shortage. Total, which operates six of the eight refineries in France, has admitted it will re-evaluate its plans to invest in its French division as a result of the strike, an anonymous source close to the matter told French newspaper Le Figaro.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: 1-handed drone control, a pot that stirs itself

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'The Witch’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Photography

Get your Sagan on with 60 awe-inspiring photos of the final frontier

Few things instill a sense of wonder quite like the final frontier. The best space photos show off the beauty of Earth, our solar system, and the far corners of the universe. Here are our current favorites.
Cars

Where are you going this weekend? These 5 off-road vehicles say 'anywhere'

The body-on-frame SUV is going extinct, but there are still several options for buyers looking to skip the asphalt. To help you sort the good from the bad, we've rounded up the best off-roaders currently available.
Cars

From Rolls-Royce to Lamborghini, these are the most expensive cars in the world

If you recently discovered an oil reserve in your backyard, you probably have some extra cash to spend. Look no further, because we’ve rounded up the most expensive cars in the world.
Cars

Lime’s first carsharing service motors into Seattle this week

Lime may be better known for its app-based bike and scooter rental services, but in Seattle, Washington this week it's launching its very first carsharing service, similar to Car2go and Zipcar.
Cars

Land Rover shows its artsy side by previewing the 2020 Range Rover Evoque

Land Rover made life-sized wire sculptures to preview the 2020 Range Rover Evoque. The all-new SUV will make its debut during a private event held in London on November 22, and deliveries will begin in 2019.
Deals

These headlights have 4 color settings to help save lives under all conditions

Boslla headlights are an easy-to-install solution to achieve all-weather lighting for your vehicle. After a quick ten-minute install, these lights have up to four settings to get you through anything.
Cars

Car parts maker ZF is using drones to deliver components to its factories

ZF recently became the first entity in Germany to receive approval to use drones to deliver spare parts, and the company now uses them to deliver parts from its central warehouses to its workshops.
Cars

The DBX SUV will go where no Aston Martin has gone before

When it launches in 2019, the Aston Martin DBX will be the British automaker's first SUV. In the meantime, camouflaged DBX prototypes will undergo strenuous testing around the world.
Cars

Ford teams up with Walmart to study consumer response to autonomous delivery

Last week it was Ford and VW, and this week Ford and Walmart are signaling a desire to work together on autonomous vehicles solutions. Ford and the giant retailer will study consumer reactions to self-driving delivery vehicles.
Cars

Our favorite fuel-efficient cars are as frugal as they are fun

You don't need to opt for a hybrid or an all-electric ride in order to achieve good fuel economy. These vehicles pack both performance and style, whether you're in the market for a luxury sedan or a game-changing pickup truck.
Cars

Out of juice? Learn how to jump-start a car with this quick guide

Jumping a car is a simple procedure, but not everyone knows how to properly do so. To make things easier, we've put together a quick-hit guide on how to fire up your vehicle using jumper cables and a second power source.