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French Labor Union Strike to Overlap With Euro 2016

Total Donges refinery strikes

Several members of France’s General Federation of Labor decided to extend an ongoing strike at the Donges refinery, owned and operated by the domestic company Total, despite French President Francois Hollande’s insistence that the protests not disrupt the proceedings of the Euro 2016 soccer tournament, which will begin in the country on Friday.

A union official cited by Reuters on Tuesday said the strike would last until Friday, continuing major protests against the Socialist government’s proposed labor reforms. If implemented, the measures would make it easier for companies to both hire and fire employees and reduce the length of maternity leaves and paid vacation time.

"We voted for to extend the unlimited strike, we'll meet again on Friday," the official said.

The Donges facility produces 220,000 barrels of oil per day, but has been suspended for over two weeks after the refinery’s workers joined the CGT’s nationwide strikes.

Last Thursday, a vast majority of the Donges' workers—94 percent to be exact—voted to call off the strike and restart the refinery, but protestors carrying out a blockade from the inside of the building have been delaying the process, according to a company spokesperson.

Gonfreville, another Total facility, faced similar obstacles from CGT-affiliated workers, but two of the company’s other plants - Grandpuits and Le Mede - resumed production earlier this week.

Related: Why Did Natural Gas Prices Just Rise 25% In Two Weeks?

Strikes at all French nuclear power stations have added to the energy crisis in France, where one-third of France’s gas stations ran out or ran low of petrol late last week, according to the French Union of Petroleum Industries.

Oil industry officials said the shortages could have been exacerbated by mass gasoline purchases by car owners unsure of future supplies.

Transportation Minister Alain Vidalies said 40 percent of stations in Paris were struggling to get fuel last week, but the resumption in Total’s supply chain vitality could signal the end of the protests’ effectiveness.

By Zainab Calcuttawala for Oilprice.com

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