France: Shortages at the Pump as Refineries Blockaded
France has once again been gripped with fuel shortages at the pump this week as a result of trade union strikes and blockades imposed around refineries and fuel depots in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s controversial move to pass through his pension reforms without a vote.
Just over five months after refinery worker unions caused widespread chaos in France by striking over demands for salary increases, unions have yet again caused chaos at the pump, with 13.1 per cent of all service stations reporting that they have either run out of petrol or deisel as of Tuesday.
As was the case during the October strikes, the availabilty of fuel at the pump this week also varies wildly by region, with 55.8 per cent of service stations in Bouches-du-Rhône experiencing total or partial outages. In total, some 34 of France’s 94 administrative departments are currently experiencing shortages, Le Figaro reported.
After two weeks of strikes, the government has attempted to requisition workers and force them into returning to their posts upon penalty of jail or heavy fines, however, this has already met with a sour response, with striking workers clashing outside of the Fos-sur-Mer refinery in southern France. Police, in turn, fired tear gas upon the workers.
The strikes have been launched in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s government pushing controversial legislation to raise the pension age from 62 to 64-years-old through the National Assembly last week, invoking the article 49.3 of the constitution to pass the bill without a vote.
The move has seen widespread rioting and unrest as well as an attempt from opposition parties to collapse the government with no-confidence measures, one of which the Macron government only survived by nine votes.
Meanwhile, in the French capital of Paris, the CGT Public Services union which represents civil garbage collectors voted on Tuesday to continue their own strike until at least Monday. The situation has been further compounded by simultaneous strikes at garbage incinerators.
The strikes, which have lasted over two weeks have seen the streets of Paris littered with mountains of litter, with it being estimated that on Friday some 10,000 tonnes of rubbish had gathered on the In addition to causing severe disruptions to the daily lives of Parisians, the garbage crisis has also been fueling the nightly riots in the capital since last Thursday when the government pushed through its pension reforms with the constitutional loophole.