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France in crisis

Workers at a TotalEnergies biorefinery and a fuel depot in northern France have ended their strikes, a CGT union official said on Thursday, as a near-month-long wave of industrial action over pay appeared to run out of steam, Reuters reported. However, new protests launched by French trade unions began to gather momentum.

Staff at the La Mède refinery and Côte d’Opal depot in Dunkirk had voted to resume working, CGT representative Eric Sellini said. However, strikes continued at the 240,000 barrel per day Gonfreville refinery and 119,000 bpd Feyzin site.

French union CGT says strikes ended in all but two TotalEnergies sites https://t.co/Ai133xq7TB pic.twitter.com/ph3BuPm7Fe

— FRANCE 24 (@FRANCE24) October 20, 2022

Fuel shortages still an issue

The strikes and unplanned maintenance have forced more than 60 percent of France’s refining capacity offline.

One out of five petrol stations in France is still grappling with shortages to this day. With the government boosting imports and requisitioning some of the staff supplies began to improve forcing the demonstrators to take a deal.

“We have been seeing a significant improvement of the situation,” government spokesperson Olivier Veran told LCI television.

A flickering flame sparks a fire

The weakening strike movement will allow fuel distribution to product-starved service stations, bringing relief to households and businesses, though it may be two to three weeks before refineries are fully operational.

Meanwhile, French trade unions began a nationwide strike on Tuesday, demanding higher salaries amid decades-high inflation and posing President Emmanuel Macron with one of his stiffest challenges since his re-election in May.

We took a closer look at the #protests taking place in #France.

More: https://t.co/6YJRwu8A79 pic.twitter.com/ItSpFGqea7

— TVP World (@TVPWorld_com) October 20, 2022

The strike, which will primarily affect the public sector such as schools and transportation, is an extension of the weeks-long industrial action that has disrupted France’s major refineries and put petrol stations’ supply in disarray.

The refinery strike

Refinery and fuel depot workers at TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil had been striking for sharp pay increases to help cope with the cost-of-living crisis since late September.

In early October ExxonMobil’s local business, Esso France, agreed to a 6.5 percent salary increase in 2023 and a 3,000 euro bonus. Days later, TotalEnergies struck a wage agreement with most of its unions for an average pay rise of 7 percent next year.

More than a fifth of #France’s service stations were struggling with #supply problems on Saturday, the energy ministry said. #Strikes continued at #refineries run by @TotalEnergies and @exxonmobil #oil companies. https://t.co/b3fH7JlTl7

— TVP World (@TVPWorld_com) October 8, 2022

However, the hard-left CGT union, which had asked for a 10 percent rise, did not back the agreements.

Still protests in France continue with people demanding higher wages.


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