French fuel shortages: strikers to vote today on whether to continue

The strikes at TotalEnergies refineries will continue at least until midday

'We are giving a voice to those who are suffering because their salaries do not align with inflation' say strike leaders
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[Update October 19 at 15:40 - The CGT says that it has put forward a plan to end the "conflict" with TotalEnergies bosses, including demands for negotiations on salaries and other issues. However, it says that the company management has refused to agree to this.]

Strikes at TotalEnergies refineries in France will continue at least until midday today (October 19), after which time union members will vote on whether to continue.

This was announced last night by the CGT union. The union’s national coordinator Eric Sellini also told AFP that, following the interprofessional strike which took place yesterday, there will also be meetings with all the CGT branches, which will decide if that day should lead to others.

The meetings are taking place via videoconference this morning.

“Beyond the refineries and the 14,000 TotalEnergies employees, we are giving a voice to those who are suffering because their salaries do not align with inflation and who see winter arriving with promises of a rise in energy and food prices,” he added.

The TotalEnergies strikes currently concern refineries and depots in Feyzin, Flandres, Normandy, Donges and La Mède.

Gonfreville refinery in Normandy has already voted to continue striking, according to the CGT.

The CGT has not signed a salary proposal offered by TotalEnergies bosses and approved by the CFE-CGC and CFDT unions, which included a general 5% pay rise, individual increases and a one-off €3,000-€6,000 bonus.

The union was demanding a 10% pay rise in order to account for inflation and to distribute the exceptional $10.6billion that TotalEnergies made in profits in the first half of 2022.

Workers have now been striking for three weeks.

What is the situation at petrol stations today?

Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne has said that there was a “noticeable improvement” to petrol station supplies yesterday (October 18).

Less than 25% of stations are now experiencing shortages of one product or more, compared to 30% on the weekend.

Ms Borne said that this improvement is thanks to the end of the strike in the Esso-ExxonMobil refineries, as well as government measures, which included obliging some employees to return to work in other refineries, so that a minimum service could be provided.

Some regions however are still experiencing greater difficulty than others, with 40% of stations in Bourgogne-Franche-Comté seeing shortages, compared to 8.4% in Nouvelle-Aquitaine.

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