Fuel shortage continues: French threaten strikes in local transport

Fuel shortage persists
French also threaten strikes in local transport

Commuters in France have been struggling with fuel shortages for three weeks. The strikes at the fuel depots could spread. Local transport is also attacked by the unions. Economy Minister Le Maire poured oil on the fire and declared the negotiations over.

In view of the ongoing strikes in French refineries and fuel depots, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has called for an end to the blockade. It’s time to “liberate the camps and the refineries,” Le Maire told BFM. At the start of the week, strikes continued at three of the seven refineries and five major fuel depots out of 200 across the country. “The time for negotiations is over,” said Le Maire. “Our country needs determination and authority to restore law and order,” said Le Maire, referring to service obligations at several fuel depots.

The government again resorted to legal coercion in the morning and forced seven workers to work at two fuel depots to improve service at the gas stations. “We are doing this for the French, not against the strikers,” said Energy Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher. “This is absolutely necessary for people to get to work,” she added.

The strikers are demanding a 10 percent wage increase from Total Energies to offset inflation and get a share of the company’s profits. The company has so far offered a seven percent increase in salary and various bonuses. Two unions support the compromise, while the CGT rejects it. “Management does not seem ready to return to the negotiating table,” said CGT representative Eric Sellini.

Searching for a gas station for hours

On Sunday, according to the government, 30 percent of the gas stations were still missing one or more types of fuel. In the wide periphery of Paris, 42 percent of the gas stations were affected. Many people who depend on their cars are currently spending hours trying to find open gas stations and waiting in long lines.

For tomorrow, Tuesday, several unions have called for strikes in other sectors, including railways, local public transport in Paris, nuclear power plants and nurseries. The unions do not rule out an extension of the strike. The two-week autumn break starts all over the country at the weekend. The strikes in the French oil industry have been going on for three weeks. Commuters, taxi drivers, nurses, craftsmen, ambulance drivers and driving instructors are among the worst affected groups.

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