| 30 March 2023, Thursday |

French strikes over pension reform disrupt air and rail travel, fuel supply

Deliveries to TotalEnergies’ refineries were halted on Wednesday, along with the production of electricity and rail services, as those industries persisted in going on strike to oppose the government’s proposal to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

In response to the policy shift, a record number of people took to the streets on Tuesday as part of a national day of industrial action.

Garbage bags began to accumulate throughout Paris as a result of the strike by garbage collectors, and the French portion of the Rhine had a complete halt in traffic. Protesters momentarily took over the chamber where the Mona Lisa is on display at the Louvre museum.

This is a critical time for the labor union and the government since President Emmanuel Macron hopes parliament will adopt the new pension law before April.

Access to TotalEnergies’ refinery in Gonfreville l’Orcher, in northern France, was blocked by unionists at a motorway roundabout exit, with wood pallets and tires set on fire, a Reuters photographer saw.

At the same roundabout, a main exit for parts of Le Havre port, trucks waited in line and were unable to proceed.

TotalEnergies said 54% of its 269 refinery workers on shift this Wednesday were on strike.

Strikes continued at Esso’s refineries in Fos in northern France, and in Port Jerome in southern France, blocking fuel deliveries, Germinal Lancelin, a representative for the CGT union, said.

But Olivier Gantois, the head of the French Association of Petroleum Industry, said there was little impact on consumers for now.

The four French LNG terminals and all of the gas storage facilities also remained blocked, FNME-CGT representative Fabrice Coudour said.

The disruptions to the LNG import terminals and cold weather across northwest Europe is affecting the European supply-demand balance, causing forward power prices to rebound, Rystad analyst Fabian Ronningen said.

  • Reuters