Paris: The French government on Thursday ordered more striking workers to return to fuel depots in northern France after negotiations to end the three-week strike stalled, saying oil shortages were taking a toll on the economy. President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised address on Wednesday that relief could be seen next week, but drivers again rushed to find a stock gas station.

“The government hopes that negotiations will resume in the next few hours between management and workers’ representatives,” said Elisabeth Born’s office. But in the meantime, Essential His workers were told Thursday to return to work at a huge Total Energies fuel depot near Dunkirk in northern France, where about a dozen police were stationed outside, he said. saw an AFP journalist.

Borne’s office cites a “substantial economic threat” to much of northern France, particularly agriculture, fishing and industry. Unions in his CGT and his FO, which are leading the strike at the refinery, have said they will fight the draft order in court, calling it an illegal ploy against the right to labor action. “The police came to their house and made them sign papers ordering them to come to work from 2pm today until 6am tomorrow,” FO officer Clement Mortier at the Dunkirk site told AFP.

Worried about rising tensions

The government had already requisitioned warehouse workers to return to the Esso-ExxonMobil refinery in Grabanchon-Port Jerome in northern France on Wednesday. Unions are calling for higher wages in response to skyrocketing inflation, pointing to huge profits for energy companies as gas and oil prices soared during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Their strike left 30% of petrol stations nationwide with little or no fuel, according to the Department for Energy Transitions. On Thursday, TotalEnergies told AFP he would propose a 6% hike for him next year. This falls short of the CGT’s request for an immediate 10% increase in his pay, dating back to January 1.

Eric Sellini, the company’s CGT coordinator, replied, “We are not going to negotiate through the media.” His union called on Thursday to extend the strike across the energy sector, which could disrupt operations in the country’s all-important nuclear sector. Ahead of Sunday’s national march against inflation, he was pressing companies to negotiate for fear of escalating tensions. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told his RTL radio that given TotalEnergies’ huge profits this year, it has “the ability and therefore the obligation” to raise workers’ wages. – AFP

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