Posted Jan 26, 2023, 10:44 AM
“Get even more strikers” is the watchword of the CGT, which is mobilizing its troops this Thursday and Friday against the pension reform. The union thus wants to extend the massive demonstration last Thursday, which brought down between 1 million (according to the government) and 2 million (according to the unions) of people in the streets.
Before the national day of January 31 at the call of the inter-union which will affect all sectors, the strike therefore resumed in several sectors including refineries, power stations or even ports and docks. Indeed, the government reform, which arrives in Parliament on Monday, would lead to the abolition of special regimes at EDF or Engie. Employees in these sectors should therefore also wait until they are 64 to retire.
Strong mobilization in refineries
Refineries are particularly affected. Fuel shipments are blocked to depots, with the usual watchword: “nothing goes in, nothing goes out”. At TotalEnergies, the CGT thus reports 100% of strikers at the Flanders depot (North), mobilized since Wednesday evening, 80% at the Normandy refinery, 60% at the La Mède bio-refinery (Bouches-du-Rhône ), 50% at the Donges refinery (Loire-Atlantique) and 30% at the Grandpuits site (Seine-et-Marne).
“We believe that the strike must be generalized to affect the economy”, indicates Thierry Defresne, CGT secretary of the TotalEnergies Europe committee. The only way, according to him, to “roll back the government”, unlike sporadic 24-hour movements.
Product shipments are interrupted from TotalEnergies sites, with the exception of the Feyzin refinery (Rhône), confirms the oil group. However, he wants to be reassuring and affirms that he will continue to supply his network of service stations and his customers. TotalEnergies adds that there is no lack of fuel in its stations and that stocks in depots and service stations are at a satisfactory level.
The tankers plan local actions with the employees of the port infrastructures, with which joint demonstrations could be organized. The CGT federation of Ports and Docks has called on dockers and port workers to a 24-hour strike this Thursday.
The federations of the CGT Oil, Ports and Docks, as well as Mines and Energy, with great blocking power, form a common front and call for “renewable struggles” until the withdrawal of the pension bill.
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Actions in the electricity sector
Among electricians and gas companies, cuts took place on Wednesday on wind and solar parks in the Montluçon sector, claimed by the CGT. As always, Enedis will file a complaint. In addition, this Thursday morning, the strikers carried out filtering operations at the entrance to the nuclear power plants, delaying the start of work for the day shifts.
Production cuts in nuclear power plants and dams are also to be expected this Thursday and Friday. They should not cause power cuts for the general public, as they are supervised by the manager of the high and very high voltage lines RTE. Despite the presence of many strikers, “there were not many production cuts that night,” said a representative of the CGT, reporting network security messages “from the end of the day on Wednesday”.
RTE, responsible for ensuring the security of the electricity supply, can send safety messages to the strikers if it considers that the production cuts compromise the operation of the network. It is then up to the employees to respect them. “We wonder about the veracity of these messages,” said a union official, given their publication just before the strike. “If these are messages to guarantee commercial exchanges”, the assemblies of strikers will wonder whether they should “respect them or not”, he added.
“We do not want (no) blockages which would be penalizing for all French people and we do not accept any threat”, declared Wednesday the Minister of Labor Olivier Dussopt before the Senate, speaking of “crime” more than of political or militant action. Aware of the lack of popularity of “targeted cuts”, the unions have also announced “positive” actions, à la Robin des Bois, in energy. They will thus restore power for free to those who are deprived of it or even reduce prices.