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What you need to know about France's petrol shortages

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What you need to know about France's petrol shortages
Photo: AFP
14:43 CEST+02:00
Here's all you need to know about the ongoing fuel tanker strike and how it's affecting France's petrol supply.
What's going on?
 
A ongoing strike by French tanker drivers responsible for delivering dangerous chemicals including fuel, gas and chemical products has is being led by France's biggest and most hardline workers union, the CGT.  
 
The strike began on Friday and has seen some fuel depots either blockaded or unions setting up "filters" outside to control the flow of fuel tankers leaving.
 
By Wednesday the strike was beginning to bite and was causing fuel shortages at filling stations.
 
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How bad is it?
 
The UFIP union which represents the petroleum industry in France has said 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.
 
Government spokesman Christophe Castaner echoed the appeal Wednesday, saying the pumps "have all been re-supplied as normal" but that panic-buying was causing problems.
 
But in an ominous message the CGT union says it will do whatever is necessary to get the principal road transport organisations to the negotiating table.  
 
So while it isn't a big problem at the moment, the situation is getting worse.  
 
Which parts of France are most affected by the fuel shortage?
 
At the moment the greater Paris region of Île-de-France has been by the far the worst hit the CGT claiming that up to 80 percent of fuel stations around the French capital could run out of stock.
 
Pierre Auclair who founded the mobile phone app Essence which allows drivers to flag up the petrol stations that have run out of fuel to create an interactive map told The Local that 76 percent of the 900 petrol stations affected are in the Paris region.
 
According to Essence some 400 filling stations are running low and another 510 are completely out of fuel, however figures from UFIP and the CGT put the number somewhere between 100 and 180.
 
The map below from Essence gives an idea of how Paris has been affected. But the numbers are increasing all the time and changing so you can CLICK HERE for the latest interactive map of the shortages.
 
"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."
 
 
 
But if the strike rumbles on, other regions are likely to be more affected.
 
 
 
What are the police saying?
 
In an announcement, police chiefs in Paris stressed that there is no risk of running dry in the Ile-de-France region. 
 
But they recommend that drivers keep their normal fuel consumption habits and avoid rush to the pumps in response to the strike to avoid creating a needless fuel crisis. 
 
Why are they striking?
 
The strike action has been called after union wage and working condition demands were not met. 
 
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.
 
French fuel tanker strike threatens stocks at petrol stations
 
How are the negotiations going?
 
The union says it has been waiting for a response to its demands since 10 May. On French TV, the secretary general of the CGT, Philippe Martinez appealed to "employers who can quickly dissolve" the situation "by listening to workers who have legitimate demands".
 
"I have spoken to the prime minister, he is aware of the problems, and I hope that he will intervene soon," Martinez went on. 
 
This is starting to feel like the fuel crisis of May 2016?
 
Not quite, at least not yet.
 
To put in perspective in May 2016, over 5,000 petrol stations ran out of fuel, so we are not there yet. A lot of the problems last year were created by drivers panicking.
 
Pierre Auclair from the app Essence told The Local that the current shortages are nothing like last year although he said that Île-de-France region has actually been harder hit this year after five days of strikes.
 
 
 
 
 
Why are they striking?
 
The strike action has been called after union wage and working condition demands were not met. 
 
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.
 
French fuel tanker strike threatens stocks at petrol stations
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