The French government requisitions strikers to release fuel stocks

The French government is requisitioning strikers to release stocks of fuel

UP & Agrave; DAY

The French government has carried out its threat: in the face of strikers from oil groups determined to continue their strike for wages, it has launched a first requisition to unblock an Esso-ExxonMobil fuel depot, in the north-west of the country. 

“Faced with the renewal of the strike by part of the personnel in Port-Jérôme, in Normandy, the government is launching the requisition of personnel essential for the operation of the repository. The requisition will begin today,” the Ministry of Energy Transition told AFP.

The few strikers essential to unblocking the fuel from the tanks should therefore be forced to come to work, under penalty of criminal sanctions.

Despite this threat brandished for the first time the day before by Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, the strikers decided early Wednesday morning to continue their movement, prolonging the fuel shortages that affect the whole of France.

In addition to fuel depots, six of the seven French refineries were on strike on Wednesday: the four from TotalEnergies and the two from Esso-ExxonMobil.

At TotalEnergies, the strike has been going on for two weeks and is gaining momentum. magnitude. In all the moving sites, the strike was renewed on Wednesday with “almost 100% of strikers among the operators”, told AFP Eric Sellini, CGT coordinator for the group.

At the heart of the demands: wage increases, while inflation is raging and oil companies are making superprofits with the surge in price increases linked to the war in Ukraine. The CGT of TotalEnergies is thus demanding a 10% increase in wages for 2022, against the 3.5% obtained at the start of the year.

With the continuation of the movement, the strikers take the risk of a brutal epilogue with the requisitioning of some of them to restart the factories, like the memorable precedent of 2010 under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.

For the depots, the restart would be immediate because quite simple, since it will suffice to open the valves for the trucks. But “if there is a requisition to restart production at the refinery, it will take at least two weeks,” explains Gil Vilard, of CGT Esso.

Galley”

Due to lack of supply, some 30% of service stations were dry in France on Tuesday evening.

And from north to south of the country, the same scenes were repeated: closed gas stations, endless lines, rising prices and the morale of motorists at half mast.

“The gasoline, it's too important for us! You see, we've been struggling for more than a week, ”says Santiago, one of the countless couriers to “struggle” to fill up in Paris, like all those whose vehicle is a work tool.

Faced with these queues of exasperated motorists, interviewed in a loop on the news channels, and under the fire of criticism from the opposition, the government drew the threat of requisition on Tuesday, for the moment only to unblock the deposits of Esso-ExxonMobil.

A wage agreement was indeed concluded there on Monday by two trade unions, the majority at the group level, but not by the CGT union at the origin of the strike.

Ms. Borne also mentioned the possibility of requisitions at TotalEnergies.

Start of dialogue? This group invited the representative unions which “do not take part in the strike movement” to a meeting for “consultation and exchanges” on Wednesday afternoon.

“If the CGT lifts all the blockages of sites , she will be welcome at this dialogue meeting”, specified the French giant.

Mr. Sellini sees it as a way of “dismissing” the CGT and thus “justifying” government intervention in the event of its refusal to lift the blockages.

In the event of a requisition, “we will go before the courts to have them canceled”, warned Eric Sellini, while the CGT of Esso-ExxonMobil denounced “a questioning of the right to strike”.