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Protesters Block Marseille Airport As Demonstrations In France Continue

Striking workers from the oil giant Total gather in front of the refinery in Donges on October 20.
Protesters briefly blocked access to the airport in Marseille, as demonstrations continue in France over a bill to raise the retirement age.

Energy supplies have been disrupted by the ongoing protests, with dozens of oil tankers stuck off the coast near the port of Marseille.

One of France's biggest trade unions, CGT, today called for further "massive" strike action next week against the plan.

On October 20, President Nicolas Sarkozy -- who has seen his popularity dip to its lowest levels ever over the pension-reform plans -- ordered police to clear access to striking oil refineries.

More than a quarter of the country's gas stations are out of fuel because strikers have been blocking oil refineries and fuel depots.

Students have joined the protests, with violence erupting in Paris suburbs and in the city of Lyon earlier this week.

Pop star Lady Gaga postponed two concerts in Paris amid the ongoing protests.

Trade unions want the government to back down on the bill to raise the minimum retirement age from 60 to 62.

President Nicolas Sarkozy has said he will not back down on the proposed measure, which he says is crucial to curb the country's budget deficit and reduce debt.

The Senate is scheduled to hold a final vote on the bill by the end of the week.

The French protests have become the biggest and most persistent challenge to austerity measures and economic reforms being enacted across Europe.

compiled from agency reports