French union says further strike action at refineries possible

07 October 2010 14:06  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--French Union CGT said on Thursday that it was possible further strike action would spread from the Fos-Lavera oil terminal in southern France to the four refineries in the region, as workers at INEOS's Lavera site ended their eight-hour strike.

Workers at INEOS’s refinery, which is one of the refineries in the region that in total account for one-third of France’s refining capacity, went on strike in support of the industrial action at Fos-Lavera against privatisation plans for the port.

Workers at the other three refineries in the Fos-Lavera area - Total's 158,000 La Mede refinery, ExxonMobil’s Fos-sur-Mer plant and LyondellBasell’s Berre L'Etang refinery - had not joined the protest at INEOS, which eased fears there would be an immediate shutdown of the region's oil processing capacity, CGT added.

More than 40 oil, gas, chemical and product tankers are at anchorage at the port awaiting the resumption of normal activities. However, talks between Fos-Lavera strikers and the management of the Mediterranean port remained in deadlock.

The port has now entered its 11th day of protests and supplies of crude oil to the four refineries have been interrupted, the French oil industry association, UFIP, said.

To worsen matters, unions have been organising strikes and mass demonstrations across France against the government’s pension reform plans, which would increase the retirement age to 62 from 60, and have called for a national day of protest on 12 October.

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By: Franco Capaldo
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