On the Picket Line

Strikers demand higher pay at two refineries in France

By Terry Evans
November 7, 2022

Strikes by members of the Confederation Generale du Travail union (CGT) continue at two refineries owned by Total Energies in France Oct. 24. Workers at the Gonfreville and Feyzin refineries are demanding a 10% pay hike. Their union points to massive profits made by bosses at the oil giant as a result of surging prices since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. 

In early October unionists at Total Energies and ExxonMobil blockaded five of the country’s eight main refineries, before President Emmanuel Macron’s government used notorious anti-labor laws to order workers back to work. Unions then reached an agreement with bosses except for CGT members at the Gonfreville and Feyzin plants. 

Some 60% of oil refining capacity across the country has been shut down since mid-September due to strikes and unplanned maintenance, leading to widespread fuel shortages. 

The CGT called protests in cities around France Oct. 18 to demand higher pay, galvanizing sentiment against soaring prices and government disdain. The government admits over 100,000 people joined the actions.