French refinery strikes drag on, fuel supplies hit
PARIS — Strikes by France’s CGT union at ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies refineries dragged on, union officials at both companies told Reuters on Sunday, as the latest talks had yet to reach agreement.
More than a fifth of France’s service stations were grappling with supply problems at the weekend as industrial action to push for higher pay disrupted operations at four of the country’s main refineries, three of which are shut down, according to the government.
A CGT representative said the strike continued “everywhere” and that there had been no contact from TotalEnergies since Saturday’s call by the union for the company’s bosses to start wage negotiations.
Wage talks have been underway for weeks at ExxonMobil, while the CGT at TotalEnergies, during nearly two weeks of strike action, said it has been trying to get the management to the negotiation table ahead of formal talks scheduled next month.
Workers at Total are seeking a 10% pay rise starting this year after a surge in energy prices led to huge profits that allowed the company to pay out an estimated eight billion euros ($7.8 billion) in dividends and an additional special dividend to investors.
The company’s CEO last week said “the time has come to reward” workers, but has so far refused to start negotiations.
A TotalEnergies spokesman on Sunday had no immediate comment on the state of the wage negotiations. ExxonMobil in France did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Aurore Berge, the head of the governing Renaissance group in the lower house of parliament, said workers had a legitimate right to seek a share in exceptional profits that were made with their help, but not to hurt ordinary people.
“It is not acceptable that workers stage preemptive walkouts which will hit who? The French people who have no other choice (but to use their car),” she told BFM TV in an interview on Sunday.
Senator Bruno Retailleau, who is campaigning to become the head of the conservative Les Republicains, on Sunday urged the government to use force to “end the shortages weighing on drivers.” ($1 = 1.0266 euros) (Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Caroline Pailliez Editing by David Goodman and Barbara Lewis)
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