Production at three Total SA refineries in France was disrupted following a vote by workers to stop the plants amid discontent over the government’s handling of a proposed labour law.
A number of production units at the Gonfreville refinery in Normandy, Feyzin near Lyon and at Donges, close to Nantes, have been shut down, industry group Union Francaise des Industries Petrolieres said in e-mailed comments.
Total’s Grandpuits refinery near Paris was also affected as protesters were blocking product deliveries, while La Mede refinery, in Southern France, was unaffected. Three fuel depots operated by the company were also blocked by protests, creating shortages at 317 Total gas stations mostly in the north and west of the country, UFIP said.
Workers at the Gonfreville, Feyzin and Donges refineries voted Friday to shut down the facilities, which have a combined processing capacity of about 575,000 barrels a day, according to data on Total’s website. The votes came as France faces protests against President Francois Hollande’s decision to bypass the lower house of parliament as he forced through changes to labor laws — reducing extra pay for overtime and making it easier to fire staff in some cases. While the government has watered down the legislation since it was first proposed in February, unions are calling for it to be dropped altogether. Some gas stations were running out of fuel, with waiting times lengthening as people rushed to refill their vehicles, local media reported.
Employees at Total’s Grandpuits refinery near Paris voted to continue working at reduced levels but stopped short of voting to halt their plant. At Exxon Mobil Corp.’s refineries in Gravenchon and Fos-sur-Mer staff also decided against halting plants, Emmanuel Lepine, a CGT union representative, said. Workers at Total’s refinery in La Mede and Ineos’s plant in Lavera may decide on a halt by early next week, according to Lepine. Total didn’t comment.
Total, Europe’s largest refiner, operates five of France’s eight plants. The last time all its refineries were halted was for a week in December 2013 in a dispute over wages.