French unions continue strikes after failed talks with TotalEnergies
Two of France's leading trading unions, the CGT and the FO, announced they will continue to strike amid the government's threats to use force on oil refinery workers in order to force the resumption of working operations.
General Confederation of Labor (CGT) spokesman Thierry Defresne said on Wednesday that two of France's leading trade unions, namely the CGT and Force Ouvrière (FO) called on oil refinery workers to continue strikes after failed attempts to come to an agreement with the energy company TotalEnergies over pay raise.
"The CGT urges [workers] not to end the strike at TotalEnergies. Leadership does not seem interested in making proposals that could end the strike, but demand that the strikers first ensure the resumption of fuel supplies from the oil storage facilities where the strike is taking place," Defresne said.
FO also confirmed it would carry on its demonstration activities.
Since September 27, employees at the French energy groups TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil have been demanding a pay raise of 10% well as the indexing of 2022 wages to match the record-breaking inflation.
Workers have been 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.
As of now, four 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.
Strikes have also begun at two of ExxonMobil's refineries.
Yesterday, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne unapologetically told oil refinery workers that they need to "learn how to stop a strike" and further threatened workers that the government was prepared to use force to order staff at depots run by Exxon's Esso France unit back to work, with similar measures possible at Total depots if wage talks don't lead to a solution.
Some workers said tensions could rise even more if the government began to force the refinery workers back.
The CGT union called the government's plans violent and suspended all ongoing negotiations with it.
31% of gas stations in France were grappling with supply problems on Tuesday, which led to some regions adopting rationing policies, such as in the south.
So far, the strikes have caused a reduction of France’s total refinery output by more than 60%. equivalent to 740,000 barrels of gasoline a day.
Moreover, the French energy ministry reported that almost 30% of the country's gas stations were experiencing shortages of at least one type of fuel.