The huge strikes hitting France are costing the nation as much as $562 million every day, the country’s finance minister said Monday. The statement came as striking workers continued to block access to ports, trash incineration plants and oil refineries in protest of an effort to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62.
The 12 refineries in France were still closed Monday following two full weeks of protests. Last week riot police aided some of refineries from protestors in order to force some sites to begin distributing fuel supplies. Dozens of oil tankers remain anchored offshore without any access to ports or means to unload their cargo.
Near Marseille, nearly 10,000 tons of trash has accumulated because of striking incinerator workers.
President Nicolas Sarkozy pushed to raise the retirement age two years as way to gain control of France’s mounting debts at a time when life expectancy is increasing. But unions have fought back saying retiring at 60 is a right workers have earned.
The French Senate on Friday voted 177-153 to pass the pension reform plan. It had already passed the lower house, and on Monday, lawmakers from both houses began working out a final version in anticipation of a final vote later this week.
Unions have not backed down despite the progress made in parliament. Nationwide protests are planned for Thursday and Nov. 6.
The strike has hit a range of industries and sectors of French life, including post offices and schools. A train strike that began Oct. 12 is starting to come to an end, but striking oil workers have influenced many other industries over the past two weeks.