Massive oil strike in France causing fuel shortages
Three of the six oil refineries in France are currently closed due to strikes by workers that have reduced production by 60%, equivalent to 740,000 barrels of gasoline a day.
The fuel crisis in France has caused massive queues at gas stations across the country as the CGT union has been spearheading a refinery workers’ strike over the last two weeks for a 10% pay raise amid the current energy crisis.
Employees at the French energy groups TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil are outraged over the immense wealth amassed by the two refineries after a price surge allowed the companies to commission mindblowing dividends, as well as additional special dividends to investors.
Workers from TotalEnergies are demanding a share of the company’s €8bn profit, one of the many oil companies that took advantage of the price surge triggered by the Ukrainian conflict, despite that government officials have been urging the company to resolve the dispute.
As of now, three of Total’s refineries are halted, including its largest in Normandy, as well as a fuel depot near Flanders in the north, after a blockade began almost two weeks ago.
As for ExxonMobil, wage disputes have been going on for weeks.
In some petrol stations, especially in the vicinities of Paris and Northern France, the wait queue can go as far as reaching two hours. Lack of patience over the wait prompted a driver in Haute-Savoie to stab a man in his thirties as he accused him of overtaking in a queue.
According to Reuters, the strikes have caused a reduction of France’s total refinery output by more than 60%.
Although negotiations over pay were scheduled to start in November, TotalEnergies announced on Sunday it intends to begin the process this month, provided that there was an end to the industrial action restricting output at some of its sites.
"TotalEnergies calls on everyone to act responsibly so that the company can supply the French people in the best possible conditions," the firm said in a statement.
Last week, TotalEnergies’ CEO said "the time has come to reward" workers, yet no date was specified for the talks.
CGT coordinator Eric Sellini told the AFP news agency that the strikes will remain ongoing but they were open to talks as soon as Monday. "If we do start talks, it will be based on our demands: a 10% salary hike … retroactive for the year 2022."
As for ExxonMobil, CGT published a tweet in which the union stated, "The strike continues today for the 20th day, we are sorry for the problems this causes but we have no other way to make ourselves heard by our management."
La grève continue aujourd'hui pour le 20ème jour, nous sommes désolés pour les problèmes que cela occasionne mais nous n'avons pas d'autre moyen pour nous faire entendre de notre direction : @ExxonMobil_FRA— cgt exxonmobil (@cgtexxonmobil) October 9, 2022
France has been tapping into its fuel reserves to supply gas stations in a bid to ease panic among its citizens.
Tanker trucks were given exceptional authorization on Sunday to circulate on the roads in order to urgently resupply the service stations.
Read more: Pro-BDS Nobel Prize winner Annie Ernaux urges protests against Macron