France asks farmers to end Paris blockade after driver's death

France asks farmers to end Paris blockade after driver's death

PARIS - Agence France-Presse
France asks farmers to end Paris blockade after drivers death

Farmers clash with riot police as they demonstrate on the A54 highway next to a bridge with radars set up to collect the environmental tax "Ecotaxe" to protest against this "polluter pays" type fees on November 15, 2013 in Arles, southern France. AFP PHOTO

The French government Nov. 21 ordered irate farmers blocking arterial roads to Paris to halt their latest protest over tax hikes after it caused accidents that left one person dead and six injured.

Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier called for the "immediate lifting" of the blockade which caused a crash that left a car driver dead. The victim was a fireman who was on his way to work.

Six people suffered mild injuries in a second accident involving a tractor and an anti-riot police vehicle.

Two unions from the Paris region, the FDSEA and JA, had announced a "blockade" on Paris Thursday to "make the voice of the agriculture sector, which has been sacrificed, heard." They complained their members were being "bludgeoned" by tax rises as well as by "more and more demanding environmental norms, increasing checks and stronger regulatory mechanisms." President Francois Hollande's government has already been forced to suspend the planned introduction of a new environmental "ecotax" on commercial vehicles carrying cargo more than 3.5 tonnes after violent protests in Brittany, a predominantly agricultural region in northern France.

Opponents of the tax, which critics say unfairly penalises remote areas dependent on deliveries by road freight, are demanding it be scrapped altogether.