Nationwide strike disrupts France's energy sector

A nationwide strike in France on Thursday called by hard-left trade unions demanding higher pay disrupted the energy sector as nuclear power industry workers joined the walkout. "If we want to win, all the unions must be together," he added. Strikes have disrupted TotalEnergies' oil products refining and delivery for the third day as disruptions continue at seven sites throughout France, a CGT trade union representative told Reuters.


Reuters | Paris | Updated: 29-09-2022 18:00 IST | Created: 29-09-2022 17:19 IST
Nationwide strike disrupts France's energy sector
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A nationwide strike in France on Thursday called by hard-left trade unions demanding higher pay disrupted the energy sector as nuclear power industry workers joined the walkout. Strikes also hit TotalEnergies refineries for a third day.

The 24-hour strike by electricity union FNME lowered capacity from the power grid at a time when France already faces a record number of nuclear reactor outages. The strike had reduced nuclear power generation by 3.3 gigawatts (GW) by 0720 GMT, data from power group EDF showed. It reduced hydropower output by 610 megawatts (MW).

The strike is also expected to cause some disruption to schools and transport. It is a test of the unions' ability to mobilise support and a barometer of potential social unrest as President Emmanuel Macron pushes on with plans to reform France's pension system. His government is expected to draft legislation by Christmas.

"For us this is a starting point, the start of a movement," Philippe Martinez, leader of the CGT union spearheading Thursday's protests, told France 2 Television. The more moderate CFDT union has shunned the strike call, but its boss Laurent Berger has promised street protests later this year if the government goes too far and too fast on pension reforms.

Europe's cost-of-living crisis is putting upward pressure on wage inflation as private and public companies face demands from workers to cushion the impact of rising prices. "Wages must be increased as there is a purchasing power problem in the country", CGT's Martinez told BFM television.

The CGT, whose membership includes transport and energy sectors, backs raising the minimum wage to 2,000 euros ($1,947.80) per month, a 32-hour week and retirement at 60. Martinez called on other unions to support the strike action. "If we want to win, all the unions must be together," he added.

Strikes have disrupted TotalEnergies' oil products refining and delivery for the third day as disruptions continue at seven sites throughout France, a CGT trade union representative told Reuters. Production at the 240,000 barrel-per-day (bpd) Gonfreville refinery in Normandy remained shuttered on Thursday with deliveries also blocked from the site, CGT union delegate Thierry Defresne said. He added that a possible continuation of the strike at the site will be decided tonight.

In French primary schools, the SNUipp-FSU union expects one in every 10 to close in Paris. Disruption to commuter train services into the capital and metro operations should not be severe, according to strike participation forecasts. On average two out of three buses are expected to run in Paris.

($1 = 1.0268 euros)

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