“A very significant improvement in the coming days” of fuel reserves at service stations. This is what government spokesman Olivier Véran promised on Wednesday, October 12. “Then, for a full return to normal to happen, it will take several days,” he added. The weapon of the government? The requisitions of strikers in refineries.
While the strike was renewed in six of the seven refineries of France, and that the movement causes fuel shortages in a third of the French service stations, the government indeed ordered this Wednesday morning the requisition of the personnel essential to the operation of the ExxonMobil depot in Port-Jérôme, in Seine-Maritime. While waiting for this improvement, the French will have to arm themselves with patience. For several days, associations have been warning about the consequences of these shortages, which are already clearly visible.
“The cold logistics chain”, an association bringing together 120 refrigerated transport companies, warned on Tuesday against “breaks in food products for the French” if fuel shortages persisted. “The blockades of oil refineries in progress on the national territory confront the companies which transport perishable goods (…) with growing difficulties”, affirmed in a press release this association which claims to represent 50,000 employees and nearly 100,000 refrigerated trucks.
According to “The cold chain”, “for carriers that have tanks, the available reserves are in some cases less than a week” while “the other carriers are dependent on the stocks available at the service station”. The association warns “of the risks of disruption in the supply of fresh and frozen products to customers of transport companies: industrialists, large retailers, out-of-home catering”.
Among the professions suffering the impacts of the fuel shortage are also driving schools. As BFMTV or Le Parisien reminds us, many driving schools have had to close, putting trainers on partial unemployment. Ile-de-France is particularly affected. This is where the schools “hit rock bottom”, according to Bruno Garancher, president of ECF (French driving school). Trainers can no longer work, they are put on partial unemployment, he explains to BFM Business. “The only schools that work are those that use electric cars or have simulators to continue giving lessons,” he says.
Driving schools are not on the list of priority companies that can access strategic stocks. However, they are demanding privileged access to requisitioned service stations to continue working. The long-distance coach service FlixBus asked him on Monday for his sector to have priority access to fuel in the face of shortages which he said could affect “tens of thousands of travelers”. FlixBus, headquartered in Germany and claiming the status of “Europe’s leading road passenger carrier”, has asked the French government “to include regular passenger transport in its future priority measures to combat the shortage of fuel,” the company said in a statement.
On the same day, several health professional organizations also sounded the alarm over the shortages, asking the government to take special measures, priority access or requisition, to maintain their activity. The Convergence Infirmière union has thus requested the establishment of “priority access to all service stations under pressure for liberal nurses and more broadly the health professions”, on presentation of the professional card. Currently, emergency vehicles (doctors, firefighters, police, paramedics), but also, depending on the department, school transport or taxis providing medical transport, enjoy priority access.
Liberal caregivers, who provide home care for their patients, cannot do without their car and are therefore faced with difficulties in carrying out their daily rounds, due to lack of petrol at the pump. Bruno, an ambulance driver in the Somme interviewed by Europe 1, is for example obliged to sort out his patients. He favors daily chemotherapy and dialysis appointments and reluctantly refuses new patients. “Patients who call for transport at the last minute, unfortunately, today, we are forced to refuse their request. We are not sure we can go back and forth without having to leave a vehicle health on the side of the road”, he laments.
The National Federation of Nurses (FNI) requires “requisitions”. “Without emergency measures, the continuity of home care for many French people will be threatened, with the consequence of an increase in hospitalizations”, fears the union. For its part, the Union of Liberal Physicians “calls on the government to mobilize the strategic stock of fuels, in order to reserve them as a priority for all health professionals who have to go to the places of care” in order not to “jeopardize the continuity of care and the health of the most fragile patients”.
Olivier Véran recalled this Wednesday that other requisitions could take place at the Flandres (North) depot center of TotalEnergies, near Dunkirk, “if the blockage were to continue”. TotalEnergies receives this Wednesday the CGT for the first time since the beginning of the social conflict started on September 27, whose main demand relates to a salary increase.