French unions to switch protests to electricity supplies

After having succeeded in provoking fuel shortages, French trade unions now want to turn their attention to the country's electricity supplies as they attempt to up the ante against the government and its labour reforms.

French unions to switch protests to electricity supplies
Photo: AFP

Running out of fuel is one thing but running out of electricity, that would be taking things to a whole new level.

France’s hardline CGT trade union is ready to up the ante in its battle to force the government to scrap the labour reform bill by turning its attention to electricity supplies.

The union is calling on workers at the country’s nuclear power stations to join the strikes against the labour reforms that have seen oil refineries and fuel depots blockaded across the country.

And their call has already been heard with staff at the Nogent-sur-Seine plant to the south east of Paris having voted in favour of industrial action on Thursday and to put a stop on production.

Workers at other power stations may follow suit. Given France derives 75 percent of its electricity supplies from nuclear power, widespread strikes at plants could potentially have a huge impact on power supplies.

The Nogent-Sur-Seine plant has two reactors, one of which is already out of action due to a “technical problem”.

The CGT, which has called for the “strongest action possible” against the labour reforms, which they see as favouring businesses over the rights of workers.

“This is the moment to accelerate the mobilisation,” the CGT’s Marie-Claire Cailletaud told AFP.

She said electricity supplies could be hit on Thursday and said that there had already been power cuts in parts of Nantes and Marseilles on Tuesday caused by the protests.

A spokesman for energy supplier EDF told AFP it would be difficult to predict any knock-on effect on electricity supplies from the industrial action.

“Everything would depend on how many join the strike,” he said.

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Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

Students blockaded five schools in Paris on Tuesday to demonstrate their political concerns ahead of the second round of the Presidential elections on Sunday.

Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

In addition to the five blockaded lycées, the université Paris 8 in Saint-Denis was closed “for security reasons”.

The students – who are too young to make their voices heard at the ballot box – were protesting against the options available to voters in the second round – where incumbent Emmanuel Macron takes on far-right leader Marine Le Pen – and follows earlier student protests at the Sorbonne.

Many were demonstrating in protest at what they saw as inadequate policies on climate change and social issues from both candidates in the final round of voting, as well as the lack of choice for the electorate.

“It is a continuation of what happened at the Sorbonne,” one student told AFP. “We want a third social round, because the two candidates qualified for the second round have no social or ecological programmes. 

“We want to give a new breath to this Fifth Republic a little at the end of the race.

“We are fed up with the fascist state. We are here against Marine Le Pen, against fascism, for the climate and against capitalism,” another student at the lycée Louis-le-Grand in the capital’s fifth arrondissement said.

“We have blocked all the entrances. We will stay there as long as possible.”

About 100 students blockaded the prestigious school. Some students chant slogans against the “Front National” – the former name of second-round candidate Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National party.

The blockades ended peacefully at the end of the day.