“I call on the companies concerned, which, for the most part, still have good results, to also consider requests for a salary increase”, declared Olivia Grégoire, Minister Delegate for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, on Franceinfo, without cite by name TotalEnergies and its 10.6 billion dollars of profit in the first half.

“We expect companies (…) to make efforts towards employees,” she said.

The largest TotalEnergies refinery, near Le Havre (Seine-Maritime), is shut down. Other sites of the group are on strike. And the two French refineries of its American competitor Esso-ExxonMobil are also shut down, in both cases at the call of the CGT, in order to obtain a wage increase.

The government is “in connection with Total to try to facilitate social dialogue”, indicated for his part the Minister Delegate for Transport, Clément Beaune, on LCI.

– “Significant difficulties” –

Tanker trucks will be exceptionally authorized to circulate on Sunday because of the “fairly localized, but significant difficulties” of supply, announced Mr. Beaune.

At the French oil company, in addition to its Normandy refinery, the strikers were massively mobilized at the fuel depot in Flanders, near Dunkirk (North), at the “bio-refinery” in La Mède (Bouches-du-Rhône) and at the depot of fuels from Grandpuits (Seine-et-Marne) in particular, to limit the outflow of petroleum products as much as possible, according to the CGT.

The mobilization was much lower – 10 to 30% strikers – at the Feyzin refinery (Rhône), but concentrated on the strategic shipping department, where the CGT claimed “between 80 and 100% strikers”, indicated to AFP Pedro Afonso (CGT).

Blockades by strikers lead to lower fuel deliveries, so petrol stations are more often out of stocks of petrol or diesel. TotalEnergies manages almost a third of French stations.

But the group also puts the disturbances on the account of the success of the discount at the pump of 20 centimes which it grants since September 1, in addition to the rebate of the State of 30 centimes.

– “Silence radio” – 

Currently, 15% of service stations are affected by a lack of one or more fuels, according to a figure quoted by several ministers.

The behavior of certain motorists has prompted the State to prohibit the sale and purchase of fuel in jerrycans and drums, in particular in certain departments of Hauts-de-France, where TotalEnergies stations and its competitors have been taken assault.

Sometimes, it is the managers of the stations themselves who are the police, as in this Agip service station in the chic districts of Marseille, Friday, where a long queue of motorists were ready to do anything to fill their tank.

“It’s been like this since 5 a.m. and for several days,” says Ali Mansoibou, who runs the station and who limited the passage to the pump to 30 euros per person. “I was delivered this morning, but there will be nothing left this weekend,” he said.

Further on, two TotalEnergies stations in the city center were out of stock.

In order to calm the situation, the government has occasionally activated the use of strategic state stocks in the most affected regions.

From the Feyzin refinery, Mr. Afonso deplored the “complete radio silence” of the management of TotalEnergies, “which absolutely does not want to move things forward”, he accuses.

While the CGT is demanding a 10% increase in 2022 — 7% for inflation, 3% for “wealth sharing” — management has been recalling from the start that it has granted wage measures representing a average increase of 3.5% in 2022 and refers to a negotiation session scheduled for November 15… for wages in 2023.

“If we have to hold out until November 15, there are no worries,” assured Mr. Afonso, claiming to be able to count on a large “solidarity fund”, created to compensate for any loss of wages that would cause conflict for the strikers.