Issued on: 12/10/2022 – 08:59
Workers at Esso-ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies refineries and fuel depots in France’s northern Normandy region on Wednesday voted to continue a strike over wage disputes even as the government launched a requisition ordering essential staff to resume work at the Port-Jérôme fuel depot. </p><div> <p>Around 50 striking staffers at the Esso-ExxonMobil refinery voted by a show of hands to continue the <a rel="nofollow noopener" href="https://www.france24.com/en/tag/strike/" target="_self">strike</a> even as the government <a rel="nofollow noopener" href="https://www.france24.com/en/france/20221011-french-govt-threatens-to-break-refinery-blockades-as-petrol-strikes-continue" target="_self">threatened to requisition staff</a> at some petrol depots as it battles to secure supplies following weeks-long strikes, putting it on a collision course with the hardline CGT union.
“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,” said CGT spokesperson Christophe Aubert.
TotalEnergies workers at refineries and fuel depots in Normandy’s Flanders region as well as the western Loire-Atlantique region on Wednesday also voted to continue the strike, according to CGT officials.
The French ministry for energy transition meanwhile launched a requisition ordering staff “essential to operations” to resume work at Exxon’s Port-Jérôme depot in Normandy on Wednesday.
The order came a day after French Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne told parliament on Tuesday that her government would requisition workers operating petrol depots of ExxonMobil’s French branch Esso and threatened to do the same for those belonging to the TotalEnergies group.
The fuel strikes have led pumps in several parts of the country to run dry, forcing drivers to wait in long lines to fill vehicle tanks. Some petrol stations were also closed temporarily while waiting for deliveries.
Around 30 percent of France’s petrol stations are experiencing temporary shortages with at least one or more type of fuel, said Borne. She called for urgent dialogue between unions and companies’ management as strikers are asking for pay rises amid inflation in the country.
Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Tuesday called breaking up the blockades “the only solution”.
Once access to refineries and depots was free, it would take around two weeks for the fuel situation to return to normal, according to government spokesman Olivier Véran.
‘What a mess’
Amid massive disruptions, motorists in France have been using social media to exchange tips on where to access fuel. One post in a Facebook group early this week said that a local BP service station would be resupplied “at 2:30 pm”. Another replied: “It’s now 2:37 pm and they’re out of diesel.”
Another user reacted: “What a mess.”
The petrol crisis comes at a time of high energy prices and inflation that are sapping French households’ purchasing power.
Opposition politicians on the left and extreme right have criticised the government’s…
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