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1992: Riot police confront French truckers
The French Government has mobilised the army and police to remove lorries blocking the nation's major roads.

Over the past eight days, lorry drivers have severely disrupted France's infrastructure, delaying British hauliers and holiday-makers in a protest about new driving licence laws.

Speaking at conciliation talks in Paris, Budget Minister Michel Charasse said: "No professional body, however legitimate their demands has the right to take France hostage, to prevent citizens from moving freely and paralyse the economy."

The most dramatic confrontation was on the A1 motorway south of Lille towards Paris, where telephone wires and truckers' CB radios were intercepted by police.

No professional body, however legitimate their demands, has the right to take France hostage
Budget Minister Michel Charasse
Five hundred riot squad officers, supported by helicopters, armoured cars and a tank, took four hours to disperse the 150 vehicles jamming the road.

Within hours smaller groups of lorries were massing together again and drivers enforced a two-mile-per-hour go-slow before traffic flow returned to normal.

Two other major protests were successfully broken up near Lyons and south of Arles along with several other smaller barricades.

But 1,000 lorries continue to surround Toulouse and about 150 other blockades remain on main roads and motorways.

By the end of the day an additional 50 roadblocks had appeared.

There is still a lot of popular support for the lorry drivers, who say that the new licence penalty point system - similar to that in the UK - will affect their livelihoods.

This is because penalties will accumulate more quickly through their work.

As supplies of food and petrol to cities are running low, the main French employers' body, CNPF, has warned of the economic costs of the crisis.

The French Government has re-opened negotiations with drivers' unions and employers' representatives.

Britons hoping to travel to France are advised to delay their visits or stick to the 'D' roads - the equivalent of English 'B' roads.

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Photograph of French riot police and the blockaded A1 motorway
It took police four hours to disperse lorries on the A1 motorway near Lille



In Context
Riot police finally cleared the 200 remaining blockades on 8 July. Several violent incidents were reported and some MPs denounced police brutality.

Opposition MPs did not make much political capital out of this incident, but it added to the declining popularity of socialist Prime Minister Pierre Beregovoy who resigned in the 1993 elections.

There was another major lorry drivers' strike in 1997 which led to Oasis and Phil Collins cancelling concerts in France. Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher said: "It's a pity but there you go. Up the workers and all that."

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