Over the past three months France has witnessed hundreds of thousands of people taking part in demonstrations against the government's decision to impose a new labour law. Lead by the CGT (Confédération Générale du Travail) who want the reform withdrawn, the protests have seen workers, students and social media-driven groups, such as Nuit Debout, merge together in a quest to make their voices heard.
Using article 49.3 of the French constitution to push through the reform bill, the law, if passed by Hollande's Socialist government, would make it easier for companies to fire their employers if difficult economic circumstances arose. It would affect the rights of many French citizens, and would also allow firms to opt out of national labour protection rules if they create in-house deals on pay and conditions with the consent of the majority of their staff.
President Francois Hollande has warned the anti-reform protesters that he will not back down from his decision. Prime Minister Manuel Valls has also insisted the government will not withdraw the law, but that there could be some tweaks to the reforms although not on any of its key areas.
Over the past few days the demonstrations have escalated. Workers have set up picketers and barricades blocking access to a large fuel-distribution depot, causing the country to experience a severe petrol shortage. According to Reuters, some 741 of oil major Total's 2,200 filling stations were out of fuel, compared with 784 the day before.
In the Seine Maritime region north of Paris, local government prefect Nicole Klein said the number of petrol stations without fuel had fallen significantly and lifted rationing orders.
The CGT union has said that its members who were at the CIM oil terminal at Le Havre's port, which deals with 40% of France's crude oil import, had voted to extend their strike until 30 May. While the CGT members sought to cut off France's fuel supplies, those in other areas have continued their protests. Cities such as Nantes, Lyon and Paris have seen demonstrators marching down the street, adorned with placards determined for change.
The street demonstrations, which happened throughout the country on 26 May, saw 77 people arrested, a fraction of the some 150,000 people who took part in the marches, according to the Interior Ministry. So far the demonstrations have resulted in 1,300 arrests.
Concerns have now been raised about potential disruption to the Euro 2016 football tournament, which begins on 10 June. CGT leader Philippe Martinez laid the responsibility on the government. "As long as the government refuses to talk, there is a risk that the movement intensifies," he told Reuters.