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French Refineries Cut Production After Nationwide Labor Strike

Total Refinery

Two of French Total SA’s five refineries in France have cut production after a CGT union led a nationwide strike opposing a controversial labor law that will make it easier to hire and fire workers.

According to CGT delegate Thierry Defrense, 63 percent of CGT members are participating in the strike on the grounds that the law may weaken worker safeguards.

Total’s Normandy refinery, which is responsible for 198,000 barrels per day, as well as its Donges refinery in Western France, which is responsible for 219,000 barrels per day, are no longer churning out distillates, according to CGT union representative Christophe Hiou.

Although some machinery in the refineries are running, “not a drop” of fuel is entering or leaving either refinery.

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The labor law was enacted last week after bypassing what would normally have been a parliamentary vote, but now must be heard in the senate.

President Francois Hollande stands firm on the reform, saying that the law will be enacted regardless of two months’ worth of protests—some which have been violent—and what CGT promises will be rolling strikes every Wednesday and Thursday beginning this week.

Business leaders welcome the labor law reforms, citing the need to improve job prospects for younger workers and to keep more French graduates in-country. Specifically, the law would allow companies to negotiate hours worked, holidays, and bonuses—items that are currently negotiated at the occupational sector level.

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Workers at Total’s Donges refinery are considering more action in the days to come, Hiou told Reuters.

The strikes reach farther than big oil, significantly affecting railway activities and fuel and food supply. A train strike is set to begin later today.

TOTF.PA is currently down €-0.05 (-0.12%) today on the news.

By Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com

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