Paris requisitions strikers to release fuel stocks

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Paris requisitions strikers to release fuel stocks

A red and white ribbon prevents entry to a closed gas station in Saint Jean de Luz, southwestern France, on Wednesday October 12, 2022.

The French government carried out its threat: faced with strikers from oil groups determined to continue their strike for wages, it launched a first requisition to unblock an Esso-ExxonMobil fuel depot in the north-west of the country.

Faced with the renewal of the strike by part of the staff in Port-Jérôme, in Normandy, the government launched the requisition of the personnel essential to the operation of the depot. The requisition will begin today, the Ministry of Energy Transition told AFP.

Striking workers and CGT trade unionists outside the Esso oil refinery in Fos-sur-Mer, southern France.

The few strikers needed to unblock the fuel vats should therefore be forced to come to work, under penalty of criminal sanctions.

Despite this threat brandished for the first time the day before by Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne, the strikers decided early Wednesday to continue their movement, prolonging the fuel shortages affecting the whole of France.

Trade unionists and employees vote to renew the strike in front of the ExxonMobil site in Port-Jérôme-sur -Seine, near Le Havre, in northwestern France.

In addition to fuel depots, six of the seven French refineries were on strike on Wednesday: the four from TotalEnergies and the two from Esso-ExxonMobil.

At TotalEnergies, the strike has been going on for two weeks and is gaining momentum. In all the moving sites, the strike was renewed on Wednesday with almost 100% strikers among the operators, Eric Sellini, CGT coordinator for the group, told AFP.

The fuel shortage now affects the whole of France.

At the heart of the claims: pay rises, while inflation rages and oil companies make superprofits with soaring price increases linked to the war in Ukraine.

The CGT union of TotalEnergies is thus demanding a 10% increase in wages for 2022, against the 3.5% obtained at the start of the year.

< p class="styled__StyledLegend-sc-v64krj-0 cfqhYM">Strike action at energy giant TotalEnergies and other oil companies enters its third week.

With the continuation of the movement, the strikers take the risk of a brutal epilogue with the requisitioning of some of them to restart the factories, like the memorable precedent of 2010 under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.

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For the depots, the restart would be immediate, because quite simple, since it will suffice to open the valves for the trucks.

“[But] if there is a requisition to restart production at the refinery, it will take at least two weeks. »

— Gil Vilard, CGT Esso

Lack of supply, a third of French service stations lacked one or more fuels, and even nearly 45% in the north of the country.

All over the territory, the same scenes were repeated: closed gas stations, endless queues, rising prices and the morale of motorists at half mast.

Gasoline is too important to us! You see, we've been struggling for more than a week, testified Santiago, one of the countless couriers to struggle to fill up in Paris, like all those whose vehicle is a work tool. .

Faced with these queues of exasperated motorists, interviewed over and over on the news channels, and under fire from opposition critics, the government on Tuesday drew the threat of the requisition, for the moment only to release the deposits of Esso-ExxonMobil.

A wage agreement was indeed concluded there on Monday by two trade union organizations, the majority in group-wide, but not by the CGT union behind the strike.

Ms. Borne also raised the possibility of requisitions at TotalEnergies.

Start of dialogue? The French giant announced on Wednesday that it was going to individually receive the representative unions of the oil group, including the CGT, while it previously demanded the lifting of the blockages to receive this union.

Technically, it will not be a meeting for salary negotiations, but for consultation and exchange, said the CGT.

“[If requisitioned], we will go to court to have them overturned. »

— Eric Sellini, CGT coordinator for the TotalEnergies group

The CGT of Esso-ExxonMobil has denounced a questioning of the right to strike.

The government spokesperson, Olivier Véran, repeated for his part that the French would see a very significant improvement in the coming days in fuel reserves at service stations, thanks to the requisitions of strikers.

Then, for a full return to normal to happen, it will take several days, he added.