Britain warns travellers over French strikes

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    Britain’s government Friday warned citizens travelling to France to avoid potentially violent demonstrations and to expect serious disruption amid ongoing strikes against controversial pension reforms.

    The Foreign Office said that industrial action in France — where President Nicolas Sarkozy’s bid to hike the retirement age from 60 to 62 has sparked widespread anger — was affecting road, rail and air travel.

    “Wildcat strikes continue to cause substantial and unpredictable disruption across the country,” the Foreign Office said in its updated travel advice for France.

    “You should avoid demonstrations, which have on occasions turned violent.”

    London announced Wednesday that the British retirement age would rise to 66 in 2020.

    The British travel warning highlighted the potential disruption from two more days of mass strikes and street rallies called by French trade unions on October 28 and November 6.

    On Friday French riot police tear-gassed workers trying to blockade a fuel depot and broke up a picket at a key refinery serving Paris, hours before the Senate votes on fiercely-contested pension reforms.

    The Foreign Office advised its nationals driving in France to ensure they had enough petrol or to make alternative travel arrangements. It also advised them to monitor local and British media.

    The warning comes less than three weeks after Britain upgraded its travel advice for France and Germany owing to an alleged terror plot. France responded days later by issuing a travel warning for Britain.

    London, October 22, 2010 (AFP)