Hauliers' strike fails to repeat past chaos

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The Independent Online

A strike and barricades set up on motorways by two French lorry-drivers' unions yesterday failed to match the disruption caused by similar disputes in 1995 and 1997.

A strike and barricades set up on motorways by two French lorry-drivers' unions yesterday failed to match the disruption caused by similar disputes in 1995 and 1997.

By last night, the number of roadblocks had fallen from 40 to just one. Union leaders vowed to continue their protest today, but a mixture of government concessions, threats and a scattering of arrests appeared to have blunted the capacity of the truck drivers to cause chaos on the roads.

Exaggerated fears raised in Britain of a blockade of the Channel Tunnel and ferry ports failed to materialise. The unions had said all along that they would not focus on private cars or strategic points, such as the tunnel or fuel refineries.

In the event, their attempts to disrupt motorways had little effect. Four of the six unions accepted an improved pay offer on Sunday night, raising hourly rates by 14 per cent over three years. Hauliers from the remaining unions were jeered and even attacked by other drivers when they tried to set up barriers in some areas.

The police fulfilled government threats to arrest drivers who blocked roads, and seize their licences.

In many parts of the country, however, rolling barricades of lorries, and filtering barricades allowing traffic to proceed slowly, were permitted to continue undisturbed.

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