Strikes keep French refineries shut

December 18, 2013 - 7:49:46 am

PARIS: Strikes at Total’s La Mede, Gonfreville, Feyzin and Grandpuits refineries went into their fifth day yesterday as workers belonging to the hardline CGT union stuck with pay demands even as other unions accepted an offer from the company.

The stoppages at the four refineries affected about 712,000 barrels a day of output, but production at the 230,000-bpd Donges refinery near Nantes was nearing normal levels after workers there voted to end the strike on Monday. 

Workers at the 99,000bpd Grandpuits plant near Paris were due to hold a vote at 1300 GMT to decide whether or not to prolong the strike, a CGT official added.

“The situation is still blocked with management, which is saying that pay increase deals should be negotiated locally instead of nationally,” the official said.

Workers at Donges ended their strike after the moderate CFDT and CGC unions signed a pay deal with management, isolating the CGT union which represents around a quarter of Total’s refining workers. 

A Total spokeswoman said the strikes were not causing any major supply problem at French service stations.

Top CGT union officials at Total’s refineries were due to meet later yesterday to decide on strategy. “We are not ready to break the movement and we still believe deals should be negotiated for all Total refinery workers,” the union official said.

CGT officials say Total has offered an increase of up to 1.5 percent, but the Total spokeswoman said the pay package went up to 3.5 percent, including seniority and performance elements.

Workers at Feyzin had voted on Monday to halt production, joining workers at La Mede and Gonfreville, where units were gradually shutting down.

France’s eight refineries have a production capacity of 1.4 million barrels per day, but focus on gasoline though French motorists mainly use diesel. France imported between 17 and 18 million tonnes of diesel in 2012, making up about half of its consumption.

Reuters

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