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Refinery Strikes Continue In France As Union Rejects Pay Rise Offer

The hard-left CGT trade union walked out of wage increase talks with TotalEnergies early on Friday, vowing to continue the strike at refineries that has crippled France’s fuel supply, despite the fact that two other unions agreed to the proposed 7% pay rise.

TotalEnergies and four unions, including the hardcore CGT, sat down late on Thursday to discuss the terms and offers of the oil giant for pay rises. After almost six hours of negotiations, the CGT union walked out of the meeting in the early morning on Friday, and its representative Alexis Antonioli told media the talks were a “charade”, and TotalEnergies’ proposals were “largely insufficient.”  

Two other trade unions, CFDT and CFE-CGC, found the offer for a 7% pay rise “rather favorable.” The offer now has to be approved by union members.

The nearly three weeks of strikes at refineries in France have left more than 60% of the country’s refining capacity offline while gas stations in and around Paris and in the northern part of the country began to run out of fuel.  

Earlier this week, France said that it would requisition essential workers to staff Exxon’s French oil depot, and threatened to do the same for Total’s French refineries if talks failed to progress. But workers at Total’s Donges refinery decided on Tuesday to strike beginning on Wednesday, the CGT union said.

French ministers said on Thursday that TotalEnergies should raise the salaries of the workers at its refineries.

“If one knows the profits which they made ... companies which have the capacity have a duty to raise wages and Total is one of them,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told local radio, as quoted by Reuters.

Energy Minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher on Thursday called on TotalEnergies to raise wages, saying that the company can afford to do so, and that “everyone must return to the negotiating table.”

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By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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