French strikes exacerbate supply problems and put pressure on President Emmanuel Macron

Strikes have swept across industries across France to secure wage increases to keep pace with soaring inflation, fueling the clash between workers and the government after weeks of strikes that paralyzed oil refineries and fueled national gas shortages.

All and other transport workers, haulage and bus companies, some university teachers and public hospital workers have responded to a call from an oil workers’ union for French industry to push for pay rises and protest the government’s intervention in refinery strikes. Thousands took to the streets on Sunday to demonstrate against rising prices.

Taxi driver Mohamed Mahrouk said he was fed up with both the strikers and the government failing to reach an agreement which officials promised within a week to end the disruptions.

“It’s been two weeks,” Mr Mahrouk said while queuing for fuel at a Paris gas station. “It’s getting too long now… a solution needs to be found.”

Meanwhile, only every other train was running on the southern region’s rail network on Tuesday, causing delays during the morning rush hour. There have been reports of disruptions to high-speed trains in the north, as well as the Eurostar and intercity trains linking France with Spain.

Similar protests have erupted across Europe in recent months as people complained about the impact of inflation, which has led to disruptions such as canceled flights and trains. Thousands protested twice in Prague last month, some against high energy prices, airline workers went on strike in countries like Germany and Sweden for higher wages amid rising inflation, and everyone from nurses to UK rail workers have quit their jobs to demand their Wages keep pace with the rising cost of living.

Yesterday’s protests in France came after the left-wing CGT union rejected a pay rise agreement that oil giant TotalEnergies struck with two other unions on Friday. The CFDT and CFE-CGC unions, which together represent the majority of the group’s French employees, agreed to a 7% salary increase and a financial bonus.

The strikers were demanding higher wages from windfall profits from energy companies experiencing high oil and gas prices as Russia’s war in Ukraine deepened an energy crisis.

But the CGT rejected the deal, sticking with a 10 percent wage increase and calling on other unions to support their demands, seek their own wage increases and join the protests after the government ordered some workers to return to work.

Long queues of cars have been seen across France for weeks, with drivers waiting sometimes for hours to refuel.

Many gas stations have temporarily closed while awaiting deliveries. About 30 percent of French petrol stations are experiencing temporary shortages, with the Paris region and northern France being hardest hit.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government is losing patience with strikers backed by his political rivals on the left.

After demands were made at some refineries to get gas back into tanks, government officials said they are planning more.

Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told broadcaster BFMTV on Monday that “the time for negotiations is over”.

French inflation is the lowest in the eurozone at 6.2 percent. French strikes exacerbate supply problems and put pressure on President Emmanuel Macron

Fry Electronics Team

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