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‘The Time for Negotiations is Over,’ Says French Finance Minister Amid Worsening Petrol Crisis

Published: October 17, 2022
Long lines and "out of service" signs seen at petrol stations across France on October 17, 2022. (Image: Screenshot via Reuters)

The time for talking is over, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday, Oct. 17 as the government ordered more fuel depot staff back to work to try to restore petrol supplies that have been disrupted by strikes for weeks.

The government said it had requisitioned six workers at a TotalEnergies depot in Dunkirk, northern France, and would do the same at its Feyzin depot in the southeast this afternoon.

The oil company and unions representing a majority of its workers reached a pay deal including a 7 percent increase and a bonus on Friday, but the company failed to end its dispute with the hardline CGT union, which is demanding a 10 percent pay rise — citing inflation and huge profits made by the firm.

“When a negotiation took place and the majority has spoken, the majority’s decision should apply. It’s called democracy,” Le Maire told BFM TV.

A CGT representative said workers had extended their protest on Monday at TotalEnergies’ refineries at Normandie, Donges, La Mede, and Feyzin, as well as the depot in Dunkirk.

The government has already requisitioned staff elsewhere, a move vehemently opposed by the CGT, which has called on other workers to join its protest.

But even so, petrol supplies will take some time to get back to normal. Transport Minister Clement Beaune told France Inter radio that petrol stations might still have problems until next week.

According to government data, roughly one in three petrol stations has not been supplied normally in the last few days.

By Reuters. (Production: Manuel Ausloos, Pascal Rossignol, Antony Paone, Louise Dalmasso)