The planned shutdown of TotalEnergies refinery in Normandy, France, reportedly “began on Friday evening,” Alexis Antonioli, the CGT Secretary-General of France's largest refinery.
The strike action is part of the mobilisation against the government's highly contested pension reform, a CGT union official told AFP on Saturday. “The units have been shutting down since last night,” he added. The shutdown will go on for several days, however, and is not expected to cause immediate fuel shortages at service stations across the country.
The halt to shipments by strikers is “de facto shutting down the facilities,” Antonioli continued, adding that “stocks were already full” at the refinery site.
“From Thursday afternoon the strikers” present at the refinery to ensure its security “refused to carry out shipments” but “as management did not wish to shut down the refinery, they decided not to carry out any more shifts.”
“After 22 or even 33 hours of presence for some employees, management finally gave in on Friday to obtain fresh teams” by giving the shutdown instructions, still according to Antonioli.
“Shipments are blocked on the refinery side, which induces a different operation on the very many production units,” the group’s management said, contacted by AFP.
The shutdown of the Normandy refinery could be the first of a series, he said. The CGT union also said on Friday that its shipments of the PétroIneos refinery in Lavéra (Bouches-du-Rhône) were stopped and predicted the shutdown to begin on Monday afternoon “at the latest”.
- France pension reform protests: Hundreds of arrests, traffic blocked in Paris
- French unions slam decision to bypass parliament and impose pension reform
- Public rallies banned in Paris following two days of clashes with police
In addition, the Esso-ExxonMobil refinery in Port-Jerome-Gravenchon (Seine-Maritime) could be shut down on Monday or Tuesday due to a lack of crude oil to be refined because of a strike at the Le Havre oil depot. The management of Esso-ExxonMobil, contacted by AFP, could not be reached immediately.
The move is part of a series of actions against the proposed reform of pensions, which raises the retirement age from 62 to 64 years and that the government has decided this week to adopt in the National Assembly without passing through a vote.
Other refineries could be paralyzed by opponents of the reform, while several key sectors of the economy, including transport and waste collection, are already disrupted by the mobilization, which began in January. Opponents are expected to express their anger again over the weekend with new rallies and before a ninth national day of action scheduled for March 23.