November 22, 2018 / 5:27 PM / a year ago

French unions call for strike extension at refineries

PARIS (Reuters) - French trade unions CGT and FO on Thursday rejected a 1.5 percent salary increase offer by employers and called on their members to intensify a strike at French refineries and depots with a shutdown of production and distribution.

The unions said in a statement, after wage talks with the French oil sector employers federation UFIP, that the wage increase offer that was made was below the French inflation rate of 2.2 percent.

They said the UFIP also rejected their bonuses demands.

“The FO and CGT federations are calling on all branches in the oil sector to intensify the strike, carry out a shutdown of production units and block deliveries wherever possible,” the statement said.

CGT said earlier on Thursday that the strike over wages and bonuses had hit output and deliveries at six out of France’s seven oil refineries, as well as at two major depots.

CGT spokesman Thierry Defresne told Reuters that the two-day strike that started on Wednesday could be extended at the refineries and depots on Thursday evening after a vote by union members at each site.

Defresne said refineries affected by the strike included all four of Total’s (TOTF.PA) refineries in France. The 253,000 barrel-per-day Gonfreville in Normandy, the 102,000 bpd Grandpuits site, the 220,000 bpd Donges refinery and the 109,000 bpd Feyzin refinery.

He said that strikes had also been declared at the Ineos refinery in Lavera and Exxon Mobil’s Fos-sur-Mer plant, which are both in the south of France.

As of now, only one refinery in France, Exxon Mobil’s 240,000 bpd Port-Jerome-Gravenchon refinery, was not affected by the strike, Defresne said.

A spokeswoman for Total said output and products deliveries at three of its four refineries and a depot were slightly impacted by the strike.

Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N) said a limited number of employees joined national protest during an afternoon shift on Thursday at the Fos-sur-Mer Refinery, and there was no impact on production and supply for both Gravenchon and Fos refineries.

Ineos could not immediately be reached for comment.

Workers at France’s CIM oil storage and dispatch services company, which handles supplies of crude to Total and Exxon’s refineries in the north of France, walked out in solidarity with the striking workers earlier on Thursday, CIM’s head Olivier Peyrin said.

He said work was expected to resume at the terminal around 1800 GMT.

Reporting by Bate Felix ; Editing by Matthias Blamont and Alison Williams

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