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French refinery workers strike and threaten blockades as pension battle heats up

The Local France
The Local France - [email protected]
French refinery workers strike and threaten blockades as pension battle heats up
A cgt union flag waves before a vote during the October strike at the TotalEnergies refinery in Donges, western France (Photo by Damien Meyer / AFP)

French refinery workers have announced a series of strikes the threatened to "shut down refineries", raising the spectre of more fuel shortages as the battle over pension reform heats up.

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As French unions call for cross-sector strike action on January 19th, just after the prime minister the controversial plans for pension reform, oil refinery workers have also announced a series of walk-outs.

Similar strikes and blockades by refinery workers in 2022 saw petrol stations across the country run dry and drivers queuing for hours to fill up their cars. 

The CGT union representing refinery workers has called for a series walkouts in a statement issued on Thursday.

The union announced a 24-hour work stoppage on January 19th - the day that workers in several other sectors across France plan to strike - as well as a 48-hour stoppage on January 26th, to be followed by a 72-hour stoppage on February 6th.

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In response, the national union coordinator for French oil giant, TotalEnergies, Eric Sellini, told AFP that these actions would result in "lower throughput" and "the stoppage of shipments."

READ MORE: France’s January pension strikes – what services will be affected?

Additionally, the CGT union representing refinery workers said that the strike could be renewable, and according to Le Parisien, the union has threatened "if necessary" the "shutdown of refining facilities."

Regarding the other oil sector unions, such as CFE-CGC, FO and CFDT, they have echoed the national call to walkout January 19th, according to Le Parisien.

Oil refineries workers are among those who currently enjoy 'special regimes' that allow them to retire early - something that will end for new employees if the pension reform plans are passed. 

France’s Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced on Tuesday the full details of the government’s plan to reform the pension system, including raising the pension age from 62 to 64. And just hours later, France’s eight biggest unions announced strike action for January 19th. 

READ MORE: Key points: French government unveils plan to raise retirement age to 64

Strikes at oil refineries in October lasted for nearly a month and caused many filling stations to close and significantly disrupted fuel supplies across France

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