The executive asks the French not to “panic”, while pressuring TotalEnergies to end its wage negotiations with the strikers.
“The effortsfor employees: while almost one in five stations was in difficulty on Friday, the French government put pressure on TotalEnergies to put an end to the social conflict that since last week has caused fuel shortages at its service stations, and whose end no it doesn’t look like it. “I call on the companies involved, which are mostly still doing well, to also consider requests for salary increases.“, declared Olivia Grégoire, Delegate Minister for Small and Medium Enterprises, in France Info, without mentioning TotalEnergies by name and its $10.6 billion profit in the first half. “We expect companies (…) to make efforts towards employees“, she said.
A few hours later, Emmanuel Macron also spoke on the subject from Prague, on the sidelines of a European summit. During a press conference on Friday, the President of the Republic urged the French not to give in to the “panic“. And to seek to temporize:The government is fully mobilizedand send a “calls for calm“. According to the Head of State, the oil groups in question “they are in the process of finalizing salary negotiations so that their employees can return to work as soon as possible.“Emmanuel Macron calls employees to the”responsibility“. The opportunity also to confirm that the government “we acted to mobilize the strategic reserves and our available capacities to be able to release them and supply the service stations that were exhausted.»
Same story for Elisabeth Borne, who also asked “The responsability» the direction of the oil groups and the representatives of the personnel so that «successful salary negotiationsand end strikes. “I really ask the management and the representatives of the workers of these companies to assume their responsibility so that these wage negotiations – which is what they are about – are successful and do not harm the French.“, declared the head of Government after an intervention in Bordeaux, during the Convention of inter-municipalities of France.
Three refineries closed
During a tense microphone on Friday, the Minister for the Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, clarified that the social movement mainly affected three refineries and two fuel depots. TotalEnergies’ largest refinery, near Le Havre (Seine-Maritime), is closed. Other sites in the group are on strike. And the two French refineries of its American competitor Esso-ExxonMobil are also paralyzed, in both cases at the request of the CGT, in order to obtain a salary increase.
In the French oil company, the strikers mobilized en masse at the Flanders fuel depot, near Dunkirk (North), in the “biorefinery“La Mède (Bouches-du-Rhône) and at the Grandpuits fuel depot (Seine-et-Marne) in particular, to limit the outflow of petroleum products as much as possible, according to the CGT. The mobilization was much smaller -from 10 to 30% of strikers- at the Feyzin refinery (Rhône), but it was concentrated in the department of strategic shipments, where the CGT claimed “between 80 and 100% strikers“, Pedro Afonso, elected CGT of this refinery, told AFP.
Slightly less than 20% of the stations in difficulty
Striker lockouts lead to lower fuel deliveries, so gas stations run out of stock of gasoline or diesel more often. TotalEnergies manages almost a third of the French stations: therefore, the social movement is felt throughout France. But the group also puts the inconvenience on account of the success of the discount on the 20-cent bomb that it grants since September 1, in addition to the State bonus.
Problems affect only one “limited number of stations“, I wanted to reassure Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Friday, informing”80% [qui] operate normallyand 19% experiencing “difficulties”. Strong local disparities persist, with the Hauts-de-France departments being particularly affected: in Pas-de-Calais, “42%“Stations were in difficulty on Friday, down from 52% the day before. Figures established respectively at 43% and 47% in the North, always according to the minister, who had the comments of the prefects.
“Important“Tensions are gradually easing, he added, but a return to normalcy will take time. In addition to the use of strategic stocks for the relay stations, fuel was transported from Belgium and by ship from Rouen.. Tank trucks will also be exceptionally authorized to circulate on Sunday morning “Fairly localized but significant difficulties.“, announced Clément Beaune, who together Friday morning carrier federationsto see locally where we can improve supply“.
calls for calm
Several ministers have also called on the French to avoid increasing panic buying, which could aggravate the situation. Concerned motorists may havetendency to go [leur] fuller than normal, which can induce additional pressure” at the stations, Agnès Pannier-Runacher pointed out, adding that the State services had indeed noticed a “augmentation» Sale of fuels in national territory. The behavior of certain motorists has also led the State to prohibit the sale and purchase of fuel in drums and drums, in particular in certain departments of Hauts-de-France. “Those who can wait a bit, do not rush to the gas stations because it will increase the problem“Asked Clément Beaune during a press conference.
The return to normality will take time, despite an improvement at the end of the week. “This is a logistics issue, there is no availability.“, specified the Minister in charge of the Energy Transition. For their part, the strikers are adamant. From the Feyzin refinery, Pedro Afonso lamented a “complete radio silence from our management who doesn’t know us and absolutely doesn’t want to move things forward“.
While the CGT asks for an increase of 10% compared to 2022: 7% for inflation, 3% for “share the wealth” –, the management has recalled from the beginning that it has granted salary measures that suppose an average increase of 3.5% in 2022 and refers to a negotiation session scheduled for November 15… for the salaries of 2023 “.If we have to hold out until November 15, no problem.“, assured Pedro Afonso, assuring that he could count on an important”solidarity fund“, created to compensate for any loss of wages that the conflict would cause to the strikers.
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