French union threatens to close refineries and stop oil deliveries in protest over pension reform

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Unions representing French oil workers on Thursday called for strikes against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms, threatening to repeat the closures of refineries and depots that caused chaos for motorists last year.

The walkouts scheduled for January 19 and 26 and February 6 would include “shutdowns of refining facilities if necessary”, said Eric Sellini, national coordinator of the CGT trade union federation at energy giant TotalEnergies.

The strikes will mean “production cuts” and “a halt in deliveries”, he told AFP.

A walkout on January 19 will coincide with a nationwide day of strikes and protests, backed by all major French trade union federations, against Macron’s pension plans.

Worker representatives oppose government proposal to raise the statutory retirement age by two years to 64 and to increase more rapidly the minimum number of years of contributions required to qualify for a pension at full rate.

A 24-hour strike by oil workers on January 19 could be followed by 48 hours from January 26 and 72 hours from February 6.

Weeks of industrial action at refineries and depots in the fall have caused severe fuel shortages for motorists, with huge queues forming at many filling stations.

The oil workers’ announcement follows calls on Wednesday for walkouts in the transport sector, which hampered activity during Macron’s latest pension reform proposal in 2019-20.

Ministers have sought to downplay the risks of strikes and crippling protests, which forced then-president Jacques Chirac to back out of a 1995 pension reform.

“This strike can take place without encumbering the country,” Public Services Minister Stanislas Guerini told the Cnews television channel on Thursday.

(AFP)


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