Six of the seven refineries in France were therefore on strike on Wednesday: the four from TotalEnergies and the two from Esso-ExxonMobil; only that of Lavéra (Petroineos group) is not blocked.

Before dawn on Wednesday, at the Esso-ExxonMobil refinery in Gravenchon (Port-Jérôme), in Seine-Maritime, around fifty striking employees voted by a show of hands to continue the strike, at the foot of the factory, where pallets are burning and there is no police presence around, AFP noted.

The strike also continues at the Esso refinery in Fos-sur-Mer (Bouches-du-Rhône), noted AFP, where the strikers vote at each shift change. No fuel has come out of here since September 21.

At TotalEnergies, the strike has been going on for two weeks and is gaining momentum. In all the sites in motion, the strike was renewed with “almost 100% of strikers among the operators”, indicated early Wednesday to AFP Eric Sellini, CGT coordinator for the whole group. Either the Normandy refinery, near Le Havre, the Flandres fuel depot, near Dunkirk, the “bio-refinery” of La Mède (Bouches-du-Rhône), the Feyzin refinery, and since Tuesday, the refinery of Donges (Loire-Atlantique).

The strikers thus take the risk of a brutal epilogue with the requisitioning of some of them to restart the factories, like the memorable precedent of 2010 under the presidency of Nicolas Sarkozy.

But no requisition has yet been received at Esso. For the depots, the restart would be immediate because quite simple, since it will suffice to open the valves for the trucks. But “if there is a requisition to restart production at the refinery, it will take at least two weeks”, explains Gil Vilard, of CGT Esso in Fos-sur-Mer, one of the two Esso refineries stopped. .

– In court –

“Gasoline is too important for us! You see, we’ve been struggling for more than a week”, testifies Santiago, one of the countless couriers to “struggle” to fill up, in Paris, like all those whose vehicle is a work tool.

Faced with these queues of exasperated motorists, interviewed over and over on the news channels, and under the fire of criticism from the opposition, the government drew the threat of requisition on Tuesday, for the moment only to unlock Esso-ExxonMobil depots.

A wage agreement was indeed concluded there on Monday by two trade unions, in the majority at the group level but not in its refineries; the CGT, at the origin of the strike, did not sign.

Ms. Borne also mentioned the possibility of requisitions at TotalEnergies.

Start of dialogue? This group invited the representative unions which “do not participate in the strike movement” to a meeting of “consultations and exchanges” on Wednesday afternoon.

“If the CGT lifts all site blockages before noon tomorrow, it will be welcome at this dialogue meeting,” said the French energy giant.

Mr. Sellini sees it as a way to “dismiss” the CGT and thus “justify” government intervention in the event of its refusal to lift the blockages.

The Ministry of Energy Transition said Tuesday evening that the staff requisition orders were “ready” for the Esso-ExxonMobil depots, but not yet taken. The ministry wanted to believe in a “resumption of activity”…

On arrival, it is not so: “a shift line was overstaffed yesterday so they started to resupply for a few hours, everything was stopped again since 10 p.m. last night”, indicated Reynald Prévost, of FO .

The ministry said another requisition order would be activated for the TotalEnergies fuel depot near Dunkirk, if the strike continued on Wednesday.

The CGT of TotalEnergies is demanding a 10% increase in wages for 2022, against the 3.5% obtained at the start of the year.

In the event of a requisition, “we will go to court to have them canceled”, warned Eric Sellini, while the CGT of Esso-ExxonMobil denounced “a questioning of the right to strike”.