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Strike, gasoline shortages… strong tensions in refineries and service stations in France

  • Post category:Economy News
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Lhe strike by the CGT union at TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil was renewed on Saturday the day after an encouragement to negotiations launched by the government, which relaxed the rules for transporting fuels in an attempt to resolve the supply tensions in the stations.

“The situation should continue to improve, since we have taken authorizations so that tanker trucks can circulate this weekend” and “we have released strategic stock”, declared Christophe Béchu, Minister of Ecological transition interviewed on Saturday on Franceinfo. He dismissed for the moment the prospect of restrictions at the pump: “we are not there, apart from the bans on filling jerry cans or cans, especially in the north of France where we have the most tense”.

On Friday, the Minister for Energy Transition Agnès Pannier-Runacher announced “difficulties” in 42% of the stations in Pas-de-Calais and 43% in the North, down slightly from the previous day. At the national level, 19% of service stations experienced shortages on at least one fuel on Friday at midday, according to the ministry which ensures that France “has 90 days of consumption” in strategic stocks.

At the pump, the queues of motorists become a daily spectacle. “There I woke up at 4 a.m. to be able to look for gasoline, I’ve been waiting for 4 hours,” testified Terry Caboste, a metallurgy employee met on Saturday at a Parisian station which limited fillings to 30 euros per customer.

Macron’s call for “calm”

From Prague, President Emmanuel Macron on Friday called on motorists to “calm” and oil groups and unions to “responsibility”.

“I call on the companies concerned, which, for the most part, still have good results, to also consider requests for salary increases”, had previously declared Olivia Grégoire, Minister Delegate for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, without citing by name. TotalEnergies and its 10.6 billion dollars of profit in the first half.

While the CGT is demanding a 10% increase in 2022 – 7% for inflation, 3% for “wealth sharing” – management recalls that it has granted wage measures representing an average increase of 3, 5% in 2022 and refers to a negotiating session scheduled for November 15 for 2023 wages. She seems inflexible on this timetable.

On Saturday, three of the six French refineries were still shut down, according to the CGT: the largest TotalEnergies refinery, in Normandy, and the two French refineries of the American Esso-ExxonMobil, where the movement was renewed on Saturday.

Blockades by strikers lead to lower fuel deliveries, so petrol stations are more often out of stocks of petrol or diesel. TotalEnergies manages almost a third of French stations.

But the group also puts the disturbances on the account of the success of the discount at the pump of 20 centimes which it grants since September 1, in addition to the rebate of the State of 30 centimes.

The CGT at TotalEnergies proposed late Saturday afternoon to limit its demands to the issue of wage increases to begin negotiations on Monday.