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Monday, 26 November, 2001, 16:45 GMT
French police break up euro strike
Lorries outside the Pessac mint
Lorries with euros leave the mint under police protection
French riot police have forced their way into the only mint in the country producing euro coins, after a 10-day strike by workers over pay and conditions.

Ten busloads of police broke up a picket line of 300 workers preventing lorries carrying batches of coins from the mint at Pessac, near Bordeaux.

Police outside the Pessac mint
There was no violence as police took control
They also took away the master stamps used for pressing euro coins.

In a separate operation, police took the euro stamps from Paris's historic mint, the Hotel des Monnaies.

No euro coins have been produced at Pessac since 15 November, when the strike began.

However, the French authorities say enough euros have already been distributed for the changeover from the franc to the euro on 1 January.

Unions bitter

Unions said there was no violence as the police broke up the picket.

A witness quoted by the French news agency, AFP, said about 50 or 60 workers remained at the plant.

Union leaders were bitter about the police action, and criticised the Finance Minister, Laurent Fabius.

"Fabius chose the CRS [riot police] rather than negotiation," said the secretary-general of the Federation of State Workers, Jean-Louis Naudet.

Another union source told the Reuters news agency that stocks of euros at the mint were very low, so there was no real need to get the lorries out.

"It's more a way of breaking up the strike," he said.

The Pessac mint employs about 900 workers, and produces between 10 million and 12 million coins per day.

See also:

05 Sep 01 | Africa
Euro printing hits Africa
28 Aug 01 | Europe
Cross-channel views of the euro
24 May 01 | Business
Worries over euro change
16 May 01 | Media reports
Euro ousts franc on French forecourts
02 Jul 01 | Europe
Paris gets to know the euro
18 May 01 | Europe
Swiss Alps no barrier to euro
13 Apr 01 | Europe
The euro non-revolution
31 Oct 01 | Europe
Farewell to the Franc
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