Olivier Véran, porte-parole du gouvernement.

“a very significant improvement in the coming days”, promises the government



While the strike in the TotalEnergies and Esso-ExxonMobil refineries has spread despite pressure from the government, the management of TotalEnergies is due to meet union representatives, including the CGT, in the afternoon to discuss the refining situation in France and the lifting of blockages. TotalEnergies has, in fact, announced earlier in the day that the management of the group would individually receive the unions representing the oil group.

Thierry Defresne, CGT secretary of the TotalEnergies Europe European committee, said from the group’s headquarters in La Défense that he accepted this first meeting. Technically, this will not be a meeting of ” negotiations “On wages, but consultation and exchange, said the negotiator of the CGT.

The union is demanding a 10% salary increase for 2022, against the 3.5% obtained at the start of the year, the group having made 10.6 billion dollars in profit in the first half of 2022. The union is also calling for official negotiations right now, without making them conditional on the lifting of the strike.

Olivier Véran confident about a “very significant improvement in the coming days”

Could this lead to an unblocking of this situation which has lasted for two weeks? At least that’s what Olivier Véran wants to believe. The government spokesman repeated on Wednesday that the French would see a ” very noticeable improvement in the next few days » fuel reserves at service stations. And this, thanks to the requisitions of strikers who began this Wednesday. “Then, for a full return to normal to happen, it will take several days”he added during his report to the Council of Ministers at the Elysée.

“From the moment you unlock, you start running the drop-off centers again, this will have several consequences: first of all, trucks will be able to leave the drop-off centers again and resume their normal routes to supply the service stations, so there you have a visible effect which is fast”detailed Olivier Véran.

In a second time, ” as you will be able to empty some of the stock in the depot centers, you will be able to allow the refineries to start operating normally again, since they will be able to store their fuel again in the depot centers”.

Strike in refineries: three questions on the requisition of personnel

Government requisitions depot staff

On Wednesday, the government, indeed, carried out its threat. Le Ministry of Energy Transition announced at the beginning of the morning the launch of the requisition of personnel ” essential for the operation from the Esso-ExxonMobil depot in Gravenchon-Port-Jérôme (Seine-Maritime), where the strike was renewed at dawn, unanimously. “The requisition will begin today”the ministry said.

Another requisition concerns the TotalEnergies refinery in Seine-Maritime, where the strike was renewed in the morning. Moreover, the government no longer rules out launching ” at any time “Staff requisitions at the fuel depot center in Dunkirk (North), while the region is particularly affected by shortages, said government spokesman Olivier Véran. The requisition does not concern the operations of the refinery and therefore the production of fuel. The few strikers essential to unblocking the fuel from the tanks should therefore be forced to come to work, under penalty of criminal sanctions.

In case of requisition, we will go to court to have them canceled “, has already warned Eric Sellini, CGT coordinator for TotalEnergies, while the CGT of Esso-ExxonMobil has denounced “a questioning of the right to strike”. At the confederal level, the CGT threatened to call “in case of requisition, all its bases, all its structures to massively join all the strike pickets on the refineries”.

The announcement of the requisitions was also condemned by Force Ouvrière, which consequently announced that it was joining the strike movement for wages initiated by the CGT at TotalEnergies. ” The FO unions of Donges (Loire-Atlantique), Feyzin (Rhône), Normandy (Seine-Maritime), La Mède (Bouches-du-Rhône), Grandpuits/Gargenville (Seine-et-Marne), Flandres (Nord) have all joins the legitimate strike started on September 27, 2022”FO said in a statement.

The union organization, which is not representative at group level but is the fourth force in the refining-petrochemical branch, deplores in particular the government’s decision to requisition strikers in the event that the movement continues, and the group’s communication which ” exposes its employees to public condemnation by passing them off as the wealthy”. FO also denounces the absence “of a social dialogue worthy of the name” in the business.

Six out of seven refineries on strike

At TotalEnergies, in addition to Normandy refinery near Le Havre, the Flandres fuel depot, near Dunkirk, the La Mède biorefinery (Bouches-du-Rhône) and the Feyzin refinery also voted to renew the strike. And on Tuesday evening, the Donges refinery (Loire-Atlantique), which supplies Brittany and the Southwest, entered the movement.

In total, six of the seven refineries in France are therefore on strike this Wednesday: the four from TotalEnergies and the two from Esso-ExxonMobil – that of Seine-Maritime and that of Fos-sur-Mer, in the Bouches-du-Rhône . Only that of Lavéra (Petroineos group) is not blocked. For lack of supply, nearly 30% of service stations were dry in France on Tuesday evening.

(with agencies)