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Strikes For Members

Will strikes and fuel shortages affect the autumn holidays in France?

The Local France
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Will strikes and fuel shortages affect the autumn holidays in France?
Strike action has caused fuel shortages across France. Photo by Geoffroy Van der Hasselt / AFP

France is a popular holiday destination during the school holidays in November, and those living in France often take a trip in November too - but with the holidays approaching, will the fuel shortages and strikes be over?

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What are the issues?

French oil refinery workers have been staging blockades which prevent fuel trucks getting out, leading to around one third of filling stations in France having no petrol (gasoline) or diesel on offer.

In a separate but linked dispute, workers in sectors including transport, education, haulage and waste collection staged a one-day walk-out on Tuesday, October 18th, with calls for a 'renewable' strike from some unions.

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What is the latest on fuel?

The situation in filling stations is easing, albeit slowly. By Wednesday, strikes had been called off at all but two refineries.

The government also used a controversial power known as 'requisition' to force some of the striking employees back to work, and that has allowed more deliveries to get through.

However, two refineries - in Normandy and Rhone - remain blockaded and even as supplies resume from others it will take some time for stocks to return to normal. As of Wednesday, 20 percent of filling stations in France were unable to supply at least one fuel type (petrol or diesel).

The shortages are quite heavily concentrated in northern France and the greater Paris region, filling stations in the south, especially the south west, have seen fewer issues.

The government has prioritised filling stations on the motorways for restocking, and by Friday 9 in 10 autoroute service stations had a normal supply. On Friday, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne told the French to "go on holiday with confidence'".

https://www.thelocal.fr/20221010/map-how-to-find-petrol-or-diesel-during-frances-fuel-shortages/

 

And what about the strike?

The strike was a one-day action, but the CGT union has called for two further days - Thursday, October 27th and Thursday, November 10th. 

Tuesday's strike caused moderate disruption - most of the high-speed TGV trains ran as normal but around half of the regional TER services were cancelled. In Paris, the Metro ran almost as normal while the suburban train network - including the RER B that connects Paris to its airports - saw fewer services than usual. Airline employees did not get involved in the strike. 

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So what about the holidays?

French schools begin the two-week Toussaint (All Saints) holiday on Saturday, October 22nd. This is a popular time for family trips away - as well as arrivals from international tourists - so naturally many people have been focused on this question.

Emmanuel Macron, on summoning his ministers for a meeting at the Elysee on Monday, told them that he wanted to see "visible improvements before the beginning of the Toussaint holiday" [on Saturday].

Minister of Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher said: "We are doing everything we can to ensure that this situation improves on the eve of the Toussaint vacations."

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This has included stepping up the 'requisitions' at several more oil refineries, which should see an improvement in the situation.

However the deployment of this rarely-used power has fuelled anger among the unions, contributing in part to the strike calls.

It seems that not all the French are convinced and many have already cancelled planned trips away - one hotel industry representative in the south of France told France Bleu that his members were seeing up to 60 percent of cancellations for the first week of the holidays. 

You can find the latest developments in our strike section HERE.

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