Striking French workers disrupted oil refineries and nuclear power stations and halted planes and trains on Thursday in mounting industrial action against labor market reforms.
Union activists blocked bridges while train drivers and air traffic controllers walked off the job.
Fresh rallies were due to be held in Paris and other cities in the latest bout of social unrest that started three months ago and has frequently turned violent. With just two weeks to go until France hosts Euro 2016 football championships, unions called for rolling strikes on the Paris Metro to start on the day of the opening match on June 10.
Unions called off some blockades on fuel depots and refineries in the north of the country, but many motorists were still stuck in long queues at petrol stations around France. Under intense pressure, Prime Minister Manuel Valls vowed the labor law would not be withdrawn, but said it might still be possible to make “changes” or “improvements.”
The divisions within the Socialist government were laid bare when Finance Minister Michel Sapin suggested the most contested part of the legislation should be re-written.
Valls slapped Sapin down and ruled out revamping the clause, which gives companies more of a free hand in setting working conditions.
On Wednesday, Valls lashed out at the CGT union that is driving the protests, insisting they did “not make the law in France.”
In fresh comments on Thursday, he branded the union “irresponsible.” The CGT said all but three of France’s 19 power stations have voted to stop work.
RTE, the body overseeing the national power network, said the stoppages were not having an immediate effect on the electricity supply, but “if it worsens, it will have an impact on the management of the network.”
France gets 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power.
A third of petrol stations were dry or dangerously low on fuel after several days of blockades at refineries by union activists.
One refinery returned to operation after the activists ended their strike, but five of the country’s eight refineries are still either halted or operating at reduced capacity.
Pierre Jata, a 40-year-old cable TV technician was rushing to fill up at a petrol station on the edge of the capital, minutes before supplies ran out.