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France suffers industrial heatwave

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 01:53

Farmers, tobacconists and ferry workers: France is suffering a summer burst of strikes, with its government under pressure to pay up on two fronts. David Pollard reports.

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France has been in heatwave this Summer, but it hasn't deterred another seasonal treat. Strikes. Here in Paris, the mood red hot - as tobacconists vented their anger at plans to force cigarette companies to use plain packaging. Smokers, they claim, will just look elsewhere for their fix. (SOUNDBITE) (French) TOBACCONIST ERIC, SAYING: "If you have a packet at 10 euros and in countries next you find it for five, what would you do? You buy the five euro one, as simple as that." In Brittany, farmers say low prices and high costs are squeezing their livelihoods. This time targeting their rage on a local supermarket - retailers, they say, as guilty as food manufacturers for the situation. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH FARMER, JEAN-MARC LOHIER, SAYING: "Today we can still see that we are all mobilised, we are all here and we are going to stay until we win our case. Which they may have done, or at least partially. The government now announcing an aid package of 600 million euros, to guarantee farmers' debts, plus a 50 million euro fund to ease social charges. And earlier in the week, French ferry workers blocked access to the Channel tunnel - for the second time in two months. They're employees of the Eurotunnel-owned MyFerryLink service, whose ferries the company plans to sell. Reform in the French economy still a big ask, says Azad Zangana from Schroders, though some has been achieved. (SOUNDBITE) (English) SCHRODERS, SENIOR EUROPEAN ECONOMIST, AZAD ZANGANA, SAYING: ''The appetite for structural reform has been very low for a very long time, and I'm afraid we're unlikely to see any more reforms until probably the next presidential election.'' Last month's blockade also highlighted Calais' migrant crisis. Many tried to storm lorries bound for Britain which had got stuck in heavy congestion caused by the strike. Eurotunnel has just announced a 9% rise in first-half core profit. It also says it wants the French and UK governments to reimburse security costs related to the migrant crisis - to the tune of 10 million euros.

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France suffers industrial heatwave

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 01:53