French trade union threatens to shut down 3 Total refineries pending last-minute salary talks
One of the largest French trade unions has encouraged its members to halt operations at three oil refineries run by French oil giant Total on Monday, if last-ditch efforts to negotiate a wage increase fall flat.
The General Confederation of Labor (CGT), the largest French trade union, has called on its 700,000 members to shut down the operations at three oil refineries starting Monday afternoon, if energy bosses do not agree to a pay raise.
On Saturday, the union will make one last attempt to persuade the fuel companies, including Total, to give in to the workers' demands, CGT's spokesman Thierry Defresne said Friday.
"If our proposal is rejected, we will propose to striking workers the shut down of Grandpuits, Normandy and Feyzin petrol production units at midday on Monday," Defresne stated.
The Grandpuits refinery, located some 57 km from Paris, has a production capacity of 102,000 barrels per day and has already been heavily affected by the strike, according to Defresne, who told Reuters on Friday that the facility was completely blocked off. A Total spokesperson dismissed the claim, insisting that the refinery was operating as normal, but admitted that it could not deliver fuel due to the blockade.
A halting of operations at the 253,000-bpd refinery in Normandie may deal a heavy blow to the French energy giant. The facility's output amounts to 12 percent of France's total refining capacity and its products are sold to some 60 countries.
The daily capacity of Feyzin refinery is 109,000 bpd.
So far, there has been little progress in solving the dispute. On Thursday, the French oil industry federation (UFIP) laid out a proposal, offering a 1.5 percent salary increase in response to the protests. The union rejected the offer, arguing that it does not compensate for inflation, which stood at 2.2 percent in October and is projected to be around 2.0 by the end of the quarter.
The threat from the trade union comes amid mass strikes that have been gripping four out of France's seven refineries since Wednesday. The workers, demanding a salary increase, have blocked refineries and oil depots in an attempt to cause supply shortages and bring executives to the negotiations table.
It's been a rough month for French fuel companies, as they have had to deal not only with striking workers but also with a separate and growing popular movement against skyrocketing gasoline prices. Protesters, donning yellow vests – the movement's symbol, – blocked access to three fuel depots on Monday. Some 300,000 swarmed the streets of French cities on Saturday to vent their outrage at President Emmanuel Macron for his decision to raise prices by imposing additional environmental taxes.
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