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French petrol stations run out of fuel as tanker strike rumbles on

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French petrol stations run out of fuel as tanker strike rumbles on
File photo: AFP
11:50 CEST+02:00
Hundreds of petrol stations around France and particularly in the Paris region are reportedly running out of fuel as a strike by fuel tanker drivers enters a fifth day. Drivers are being urged not to panic however.
The strike action which began on Friday is being led by tanker drivers responsible for delivering dangerous chemicals including fuel, gas and chemical products.
 
The hardline CGT union is demanding bosses open talks over wages and working conditions and have threatened to do what it takes to get them around the negotiating table.
 
They have blockaded some fuel depots around the country and at others in the greater Paris region of Ile-de-France they are controlling how many fuel tankers can leave.
 
By Wednesday the strike action was beginning to bite.
 
French petrol industry chiefs from UFIP have downplayed worries over shortages, saying that only around hundred stations -- out of total 11,000 -- are completely out of stock.
 
These figures are in line with the hardline CGT which is claiming that more than 180 stations have run out of gas. 
 
But going by petrol availability app mon-essence.fr which bases its date on information from its users, the situation is a bit more complicated than industry officials are suggesting.
 
The map below shows the number of petrol stations in yellow that are running low, while those in orange are completely out of fuel.
 
The Essence app confirms that there isn't a "major problem with stocks" but according to the latest figures available on Wednesday morning the number of filling stations affected was at 841 with 404 of those already completely dry.  
 
 
As the map below suggests the greater Paris region of Île-de-France is by far the worst area affected with nearly 40 percent of stations either out of fuel or running low.
 
 
A full interactive map of affected fuel stations is below.
 
The Essence app is normally used by members of the public to compare fuel prices, but it also allows them to signal when stations are running low or are completely out of fuel. Petrol station owners can also flag up when they are dry.
 
Pierre Auclair from Essence told The Local drivers in the Paris region will face the most difficulties trying to find fuel.
 
"Driving in the Île-de-France region is already problematic and the fact that most of the stations affected are around Paris could create a big problem," he said.
 
"There's no fuel shortage crisis as such just yet but drivers will find that when they turn up at petrol stations they either have to queue or travel another 20km to find one with fuel."
 
He said some stations were also closing at night time, to prevent them running out of fuel overnight.
 
Auclair said there was still no need to panic and cause a rush to the pumps.
 
"We don't want to create a panic, we just want to inform people about the situation," he said.
 
However if the dispute is not solved then the situation is only likely to deteriorate.
 
Drivers earning less than €10/hour
 
The striking are 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. 
 
Auclair from the Essence app told The Local the crisis is not at the same level as 2016, when the whole country was affected, but he stressed that after five days of strike action the Paris region has been harder hit this time around.
 
Below is a full interactive map of where members of the public have signaled shortages at fuel stations.
 
 
 
 
 
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