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First Hand Report from France from a Striker

I'm exhausted.

I've spent the last three days going from road block to road block, together with teachers, railroad workers, truckers, nurses, etc.

So far, in our sector, we've managed the feat of keeping the Arnages oil depot totally closed since Friday 4 AM!

As a result, all the petrol stations in aradius of 70 kms are closed, completely out of gas.

I slept 4 hours on Friday night, 6 hours on Saturday, 2 on Monday ...

Today, we got the main Teachers' Union to call on all striking teachers to come and help block all the remaining fuel depots.

The police can't intervene, because the truckers have established road blocks on the major roads leading to the oil depot.

What is incredible is that despite the fact that there is no more oil available, and therefore that people are blocked at home, a resounding 71% of the population approves of the strike (according to today's opinion polls).

The movement is set to last at least another week. I spent the whole of Sunday night with transport (railway and truckers) workers playing cards and drinking beer. It was quite cold (2?C) around 4 AM, but the railroad workers brought several truck-loads of "palettes" (empty wooden containers) and we lit a might bonfire.

Striking workers from the neighbouring Renault factory brought firecrackers and we spent the wee hours of the morning lighting them.

Workers are determined to fight until the bitter end. Workers who chose not to go on strike are being encouraged to donate part of their salary to the workers of the most "strategic" sectors, especialy the Donges raffinery.

Personally, this is my 6th day of Strike. An open-ended strike that might not be the best way of going about things, the consensus now being that "revolving" strikes (15% of the workforce on strike on a given day) would enable us to hold out longer.

The support from "ordinary people" is astounding. When we block a freeway, drivers often honk to support us, give us money, hand us daily newspapers, even though we are effectively blocking them.

I've decided to stay on strike for a further three days but to spend more time with my family, which is also what the union is advocating.

Some comrades have spent 4 days without going home and the union is worried this may cause trouble with spouses,who are forced to look after the kids, which would further undermine our resolve.

All 12 French oil refineries are on strike until next Friday. Many depots are blocked. Half the train stations (including major ones) are closed. Truckers have blocked the roads leading to the main production areas, and factories cannot function because they lack raw material and pieces (they don't have any stocks of materials stored because they believe storage costs money).

Anyway, the mood is indescribable. Workers from every sector are united and determined, and for the first time, many workers can chat with people employed in other industries knowing that they share a common goal.

The only problem is, it will be hard, very hard to go back to work. But thanks to the government, people are prepared to remain on strike until next week. Then we'll see.

It's a general strike and a lot of ordinary workers I've talked to are determined not to resume work until the retirement age is brought back to 60.