French fuel tanker strike threatens stocks at petrol stations

A strike by tanker drivers in France is threatening to leave petrol stations short of fuel and will spark fears it could lead to another fuel crisis, exactly one year after thousands of service stations ran dry during protests.

French fuel tanker strike threatens stocks at petrol stations
File photo: AFP

The tanker strike that began last Friday has up until now has been focused on the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France but it will expand across the country as of this Monday.

That’s according to the transport arm of one of France’s biggest and more hardline unions – the CGT, which claims up to 80 percent of fuel stations around the French capital could run out of stock.

The strike action, which has been called after union wage and working condition demands have not been met, concerns drivers responsible for delivering dangerous chemicals including fuel, gas and chemical products.
The leftist CGT Transports says that more than seventy percent of tanker drivers in Ile-de-France and in the west of the country took part in the strike at the weekend.
On Monday morning a refinery in Grandpuits in the Seine-et-Marne department near Paris was blocked, as was a depot in La Rochelle on the west coast.
'Stocks under control'
But UFIP, which representatives the petroleum industry in France says drivers should not panic.
It says that petrol stations are managing so far because they anticipated the strike and so took on extra stocks of fuel. 
But in an ominous message the hardline CGT union, renowned in France for its militant protests and wildcat strike action says it will do whatever is necessary to get the principal road transport organisations to the negotiating table.  
Drivers earning less than €10/hour
The CGT is seeking guarantees on a pay rise (up to €14/h), a reduced working week (10h max/day) and a 13th month bonus and claim they have not had an answer to their demands since May 10th.
“Drivers transporting 38,000 litres of fuel or 24 tons of acid, are paid €9.73 an hour,” a CGT document said.
It added these drivers are required to take exams in order to obtain the necessary certificates to carry out the work, and must retake these exams every five years.
Thousands of French petrol stations faced complete or partial shortages following protests and blockades over the then government’s move to try to force through labour reforms. 

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French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.