French government feels the heat after fuel shortages across country

Picture source - Anadolu Agency

Workers at TotalEnergies, Esso-ExxonMobil, and other French fuel refiners have voted to continue their strike over a wage dispute, despite the government requisition of resuming work at a major fuel depot on Tuesday.

General Confederation of Labour (CGT) Spokesperson Christophe Aubert, while talking to protestors stated, “You are all targeted, the government wants to force us to resume work, we will fight against a clear challenge to the right to strike. We are attacked in a frontal way on our right to strike.”

Earlier on Tuesday, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne stated in parliament that the government is prepared to use force to return workers to Exxon’s Esso France depots, with similar measures doable at Total sites if wage talks fail to yield a solution.

Borne in the National Assembly stated that approximately 30% of France’s petrol stations are undergoing temporary shortages of at least one or more types of fuel.

This statement enraged the workers who were already on strike. The CGT union called the plan “violent” and postponed all the ongoing negotiations with State employers on a national level and across the business sector and announced additional strikes.

Earlier on Monday, Budget Minister Gabriel Attal also held the hard-left union CGT responsible for the strikes that led to fuel shortages across the country, which has resulted in long lines forming in front of gas stations in recent days.

TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil agreed to the proposal represented by the government on Monday regarding pay rise, but the union for workers at the oil refineries rejected the proposal.

The CGT trade union stated that it is prepared to go to war if President Macron forces employees to return to work.

Due to the strike, nearly all gas stations in Paris were out of gas from Saturday to Sunday. The wage strike is in its third week which has resulted in the shutdown of an estimated 30% of service stations countrywide.

Several French refineries, as well as market leader TotalEnergies, offered a 20 cent per liter discount in addition to the government’s 30 cents per liter discount that led to a large run, according to the company.

According to a Reuters report, 60% of France’s refining capacity is offline and up to 20% of gas stations in France are affected by gasoline or diesel shortages.

Meanwhile, France President Emmanuel Macron called for calm in France over the current situation.

According to Market Analysts, France is increasing imports to compensate for the production shortfall. Diesel imports were 37% higher in the first ten days of October than in the entire month of October last year.

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