French gov‘t orders refinery strikers back

PARIS, France (AFP) — The French government announced Wednesday it was ordering some refinery workers back to their posts for the first time in an attempt to break a strike and blockade that has lead to petrol and diesel shortages.

The energy transition ministry said the requisitioning of workers at a Esso-ExxonMobil fuel depot at a refinery at Gravenchon-Port-Jerome in northern France “will begin today.”

The announcement came as the strikers voted Wednesday to continue their stoppages and blockades, defying threats from the government to force them to return to their jobs.

Industrial action to demand large pay rises has paralyzed six out of seven fuel refineries in France, leading to nation-wide shortages exacerbated by panic-buying from drivers.

AFP reporters at two refineries owned by United States giant Esso-ExxonMobil saw workers raise their hands in favor of continuing their strike on Wednesday morning, while trade unions confirmed continuing stoppages at four sites owned by France’s TotalEnergies.

Government ministers have urged a negotiated resolution to the crisis, but have been threatening direct intervention to get supplies flowing again as frustration mounts.

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