Energy

French Union Protests Causing Mass Fuel Shortages

REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

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Michael Bastasch Energy Editor
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French unions protesting labor law reforms have blockaded ports, refineries and fuel depots for several days, causing fuel shortages at gas stations across the country and rousing workers at power plants to rush out onto the streets in protest.

France’s CGT union is pushing workers to take to the streets and cut off power supplies to public transit systems, according to Reuters. Tens of thousands of workers left their jobs at power plants and railways to protest labor reforms being considered by lawmakers.

Police were forced to intervene and lift blockades to get fuel to French residents waiting in long lines at gas stations. Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls said, “20-30 percent of fuel stations were dry or short of certain fuels,” Reuters reports.

That’s on top of the five gigawatts of nuclear power that was taken offline due to strikes. French officials say there likely won’t be major blackouts because there are legal limits on how much workers can strike and the country can import power from its neighbors.

Protests by dock workers have also caused huge pack-ups at the ports. There are 21 ships waiting at sea to unload oil, gas and other fuels — that’s more than four times as many ships that are usually waiting to unload fuel.

The situation may seem dire, but French officials said the situation is improving.

“The situation is less worrisome as of today,” Transport Minister Alain Vidalies said on news that more fuel was flowing to gas stations.

Just three days ago, however, more than 1,600 gas stations across France were running out of fuel, according to Russia Today. Some 800 gas stations were completely tapped out Monday, and another 800 were on the brink of running empty.

Protesters were burning wood pallets and erecting roadblocks to keep fuel from getting to consumers. Six out of eight oil refineries were choked off by unions, and five of 100 fuel depots were also blocked off.

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