French truckers are resisting calls to end their strike over fuel prices

September 09, 2000|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

PARIS - A truckers' strike protesting the rising cost of fuel, which had begun to cripple supplies around the country, seemed to lose some of its momentum yesterday as the leader of France's largest truckers' group urged its members to lift their blockades at more than 90 of the country's major fuel depots.

But many truckers - perhaps encouraged by a poll that suggested that more than 80 percent of the country supported them - appeared to defy their leader. And a smaller union said its members would continue the protest as well.

The truckers want a 20 percent cut in diesel fuel taxes for freight trucks and have been joined by workers from many other sectors of the economy who have been squeezed by the spiraling cost of fuel in the past year.

The truckers began their protest in earnest on Monday after a strike by fishermen, who had blocked the country's ports last month to protest fuel costs and won financial concessions from the government. Soon after the truckers began their blockades, they were joined by farmers, airline workers and bus drivers.

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