May 20, 2016 / 9:06 AM / in 3 years

UPDATE 2-Union vote to halt production at Total's Normandy refinery

* Strikes aim to pressure govt to drop labour reform

* Protest disrupts fuel supply in some regions

* Normandy refinery could be out for up to 12 days (Updates after union vote, adds details, background)

By Bate Felix

PARIS, May 20 (Reuters) - Oil workers from the hardline French CGT union voted on Friday to shut down production at Total’s Normandy refinery and to prolong the strike at Grandpuits refinery for 72 hours, a union official said.

The vote, aimed at pressuring the socialist government of President Francoise Hollande to withdraw a labour reform bill which the unions consider as unfavourable to workers, could stoke concerns over refined products supply in France.

A prolonged strike at refineries in France in 2010 led to a glut of crude in Europe because it could not be delivered to refineries, and a spike in refined products prices due to low output from refineries.

Total’s five refineries in France have already been running at “minimum output” since May 17, a CGT union official told Reuters on Thursday, after oil sector workers decided to join the rolling protest that began in March.

The union members at the refineries met on Friday to decide whether to halt production at the refineries.

“In Normandy, 56 percent voted for a complete shutdown of the refinery and in Grandpuits, they voted to prolong the strike for 72 hours,” CGT delegate Thierry Defrense, told Reuters.

Defrense said workers were in talks with the refinery’s management on the shutdown process which could take up to five days, and given that a restart could also take up to 4 days, he said the 198,600 barrels per day (bpd) Normandy refinery could be out for up to 12 days.

He said Total’s management could decide to also halt production at the 102,000 bpd Grandpuits refinery where output had been cut in the past days and reservoirs were full due to a blockade by striking workers preventing supplies from leaving.

Defrense said workers were still meeting at Donges, La Mede and Feyzin refineries. He added CGT Union workers in Le Havre port were blocking a crude storage facility, preventing imports.

Another CGT union official said on Friday the goal of the strike was not to create (fuel) shortages but to obtain the withdrawal of the labour bill. However, it has led to supply disruption and shortages in some parts of France.

A Total spokesman said on Thursday although refineries were running normally, it faced supply disruption because striking workers were blockading refineries, and one in five service stations in some areas lacked fuel, including some in Paris.

Due to fuel shortages the local administration of the Loire-Atlantique region on the west coast of France issued an order limiting the quantity of fuel per vehicle. (Additional reporting by Emmanuel Jarry, Gus Trompiz and Andrew Callus; Editing by John Irish and David Evans)

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