French energy workers stage day strike, nuclear power levels reduced

The equivalent full electrical output of two nuclear power stations was depleted from grid due to action

Workers staged the protest over potential changes to pay structures

Workers in the energy sector across France are on strike today (June 20), leading to a drop in power levels for the national grid. 

Workers from the CGT (Confédération Générale du Travail) joined the action, particularly those working at nuclear power plants, in a row over salary restructuring.

It led to reduced output at three nuclear power stations – Saint-Alban (Isère), Flamanville (Manche) and Belleville (Cher) – equalling a loss of around 2,300MW of power. 

This is the same as the output of two average-sized nuclear plants.

The action is not thought to have affected the supply to homes with no reports of major electricity outages in the country.

Read more: UPDATED: Strikes in France in June 2024 and how you may be impacted

Strike held over changes to pay structure

Strike action was called by the union over plans to shake-up the wage structure for energy sector workers.

Currently, workers can receive annual salary increases of around 2.3% directly from their management, based on their individual work performance.

The union claims energy companies want to reduce this to 1.5%.

The changes would also make all salary increases dependent on a set of more detailed criteria, that would allow for augmentations of around 0.1% per objective hit. 

“We have a management team that is coming in at a time of social tension to dismantle our pay scale at branch level,” said José Fernandes, a delegate of the union who works for EDF.

He further called the attempted measures an “individualisation of wages”.

The union added that the new deal would mean some workers would be effectively paid less than minimum wage.

Read more: What is the net and gross minimum wage in France in 2024?

The CGT is the largest union in the sector, but was the sole group to directly call for strike action. 

Other unions say they will not sign the new agreements that will change pay structure for workers, leading to a potential stalemate between managers and employees, and may see strike action increase in the coming weeks.

At the same time, some unions say that certain elements of the renegotiated package – such as seniority bonuses and an increase for hours workers spend on-call – appeal to their members.