Strike at French refineries still affects petrol supply, PM says By Reuters
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne delivers a government statement on the war in Ukraine and the consequences for France, at the National Assembly in Paris, France, October 3, 2022. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier
By Mathieu Rosemain
PARIS (Reuters) – Gasoline supplies at French service stations fell further over the weekend due to a week-long strike at oil major TotalEnergies, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said on Sunday, prompting renewed service requisition.
President Emmanuel Macron’s government is facing growing social unrest due to high inflation, with thousands demonstrating against soaring prices on Sunday and several unions calling for a general strike.
“We are at around 30% of the stations that have a supply problem on at least one of the fuels,” Borne said in an interview with French television channel TF1.
Data from the Department of Energy showed on Saturday that 27.3% of French service stations were facing supply problems, compared to 28.5% the day before and 30.85% on Wednesday, when the requisition began.
As part of the requisition plan, some workers are ordered back to work to ensure the resumption of minimum service.
“If there are very tense situations tomorrow (…), we will also carry out requisitions,” Borne said.
“There is a pay agreement that has been signed by the organizations representing the majority of employees (at TotalEnergies),” Borne said.
“(Workers) need to get back to work.”
Borne said the general rebate on fuel prices at petrol stations that it introduced in response to soaring global oil prices would be extended until mid-November.
The rebate of 30 cents per liter was previously scheduled to be reduced to 10 cents on November 1.
The Prime Minister added that she had spoken with the CEO of TotalEnergies, Patrick Pouyanne, and that he had agreed to extend the company’s additional discount of 20 cents per litre.
The country’s refinery strike, led by the hardline CGT union, is also emboldening political opposition, likely leading the government to use special constitutional powers to pass its 2023 budget bill, Borne said.
The government is set to use special constitutional powers that would allow it to circumvent a vote in parliament, Borne said.
Opposition parties are likely to respond with a no-confidence motion, which would likely fail but be damaging nonetheless as the government seeks to build bridges for planned pension reform.
Lacking a solid majority to push the bill through a regular vote, the government decided to use the special powers, decried by opponents as undemocratic, to avoid the humiliation of seeing the tax law and Country spending rejected.