Fuel Shortage in France: Strike Continues Despite Government Pressure

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Shortage of fuel in France: the strike continues despite pressure from the government

Motorists line up to fill their fuel tanks at petrol pumps at the Auchan gas station in Petite-Forêt, France, in October 2022.< /p>

The French government, under fire from critics as a third of service stations are affected by shortages, called on Tuesday for the unblocking of fuel depots and threatened to intervene “without delay”, without doing anything. bend the strikers, both at TotalEnergies and at Esso-ExxonMobil.

From north to south of France, the same scenes are repeated: closed stations, endless lines of #x27;waiting, rising prices and low motorist morale.

For several weeks, the country has been affected by strikes in refineries and fuel depots, at the call of trade union organizations demanding wage increases. This social movement has started to create major difficulties for motorists since last week.

When there are proposals for negotiations, you have to seize them. Otherwise it's no longer a strike to get results, it's simply a blockage of the country, and that's not acceptable, said Economy Minister Bruno Le Mayor, on the France Info media.

If [the union] CGT categorically refuses to engage in this discussion, we will have no other way than to requisition the means necessary to release the deposits and operate the refineries, simply because our compatriots cannot be the collateral victims of a social conflict between a trade union […] organization and a private company, he added.

The government calls for all blockages to be lifted without delay. Otherwise, we will take our responsibilities, that is to say that we could be led to lift them, also said government spokesman Olivier Véran, the day after a meeting. emergency.

France is affected by gasoline shortages which cause many worries for motorists, truckers and emergency vehicles. A report by Raphaël Bouvier-Auclair.

At TotalEnergies, employees voted again Monday morning by a large majority for the continuation of the strike, announced Eric Sellini, of the CGT. This concerns in particular its refinery in Normandy (north-west of France), its fuel depot in Flanders (north) and its biorefinery in La Mède (south).

On the side of Esso-ExxonMobil, the two French refineries have also renewed the movement, at the call of the FO and CGT unions, despite the signing the day before of a wage agreement by two majority organizations at the #x27;group scale, but not refineries.

In the event of a requisition, we will go to court to have them canceled, assured Mr. Sellini, while the CGT d& #x27;Esso-ExxonMobil denounced a questioning of the right to strike.

We are not here to block the lives of all French people, but to demand dignified living conditions, said Lionel Arbiol, spokesman for CGT Esso.

The unions highlight the superprofits made by the oil groups, which benefit from the surge in prices linked to the war in Ukraine. TotalEnergies thus made $10.6 billion in profits in the first half.

However, many motorists and certain leading professions deplore this situation, such as liberal nurses, who are worried that they will no longer be able to visit their patients and endanger their health.

I spent three hours [noon yesterday] in the queue at a station. I had to do my rounds in speed and leave my patients on stand-by to go and fill up quickly, Sandrine Monteiro, a 35-year-old liberal nurse, told AFP.

The oppositions accused the government, the right and the extreme right, criticizing a lack of anticipation and feverishness, when the left denounced threats to employees , but [des] hugs for the bosses.

Mr. Véran estimated that regaining normal functioning in the most affected regions would take a few days, and assured that this will be the case within 15 days.

He also considered abnormal that a few strike profiteers have boosted gas prices at the pumps at some stations.

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