French strike pits workers vs. government as inflation bites

Oct 18, 2022, 5:08 AM | Updated: 2:07 pm
Protesters shout during a demonstration in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is ...

Protesters shout during a demonstration in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

(AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

PARIS (AP) — Tens of thousands of French workers took to the streets Tuesday across the country, striking for pay hikes that keep up with rising inflation. The industrial action came after weeks of walkouts that have hobbled French oil refineries and sparked gasoline shortages around the country.

“It’s time to go back to work,” French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Tuesday about people on strike in the French refineries of oil giant TotalEnergies.

Rail and other transportation workers, trucking and bus companies, some high school teachers and public hospital employees have heeded a call by an oil workers’ union to push for salary increases and protest government intervention in the refinery strikes.

According to the Interior Ministry, over 100,000 people marched Tuesday in multiple protests in French cities. Thousands also took to the streets Sunday to march against rising prices.

Retired social security employee Bernard Mirc, 70, who participated in the Paris protest, said

“We are demanding an increase in salaries everywhere. In all jobs, in all professions, because we now find ourselves with employees who are underpaid in relation to the cost of living,” said retiree Bernard Mirc, 70, who participated in the Paris protest.

Meanwhile, just one in two trains were running Tuesday in the southern region rail network, causing delays during morning rush hour. There were also reports of disruptions on high-speed trains in the north, as well as on the Eurostar and the inter-city trains linking France with Spain.

Similar protests have erupted around Europe in recent months over the impact of inflation, causing disruptions like canceled flights and trains. Thousands protested in Prague twice last month partly about high energy prices, airline workers have gone on strike like Germany and Sweden to demand higher pay and in the U.K., everyone from nurses to rail employees have walked off the job to demand their wages keep pace with inflation.

Tuesday’s protests in France come after the left-wing CGT union rejected a deal over a pay increase that oil giant TotalEnergies struck with two other unions Friday. The CFDT and CFE-CGC unions, which together represent a majority of the group’s French workers, agreed to a 7% pay rise and a financial bonus.

Strikers demanded higher wages from the windfall profits of energy companies that have seen high oil and gas prices as Russia’s war in Ukraine aggravates an energy crisis.

But the CGT rejected the deal, holding out for a 10% pay rise and urging that the protests continue.

The CGT’s secretary general, Philippe Martinez, said “our demands are more than ever on the agenda, the question of salaries. We see that this is the No. 1 priority of the French.”

“Inflation affects all workers in Europe,” Martinez added. “We can see that the profits of big companies are exploding and that employees are being told their pay cannot be increased, that there is no money. So this anger is widespread in Europe”.

Long lines of cars have been seen for weeks across France as drivers waited — sometimes for hours — to fill up. Many gas stations have temporarily closed while awaiting deliveries.

French President Emmanuel Macron’s government is losing patience with strikers, who are backed by his political rivals on the left.

Borne, speaking Tuesday at the National Assembly, said “negotiations led to the signature of agreements” with majority unions both at TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil’s French branch Esso, where workers ended their strike last week.

“Therefore, it is not acceptable that a minority continues to block the country,” she said.

Borne said about 25% of France’s gas stations are experiencing temporary shortages.

She noted a “clear improvement” of the situation in northern France, where 18.5% of gas stations are now disrupted, down from 55% last week. She said the situation also improved in the Paris region over the past 24 hours.

Samba Cissé, who works as a courier, drove to Paris on Tuesday from a suburb in search of gas.

“I need petrol to be able to work, it’s as simple as that,” Cissé said.

Inflation has risen around the world as economies rebounded from the COVID-19 pandemic and then got worse as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sent food and fuel prices soaring.

French inflation has hit 6.2%, which is the lowest among the 19 countries that use the euro currency, according to the European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat. In comparison, Estonia saw consumer prices soar 24% last month from a year earlier, while the Netherlands’ rate was 17% and the eurozone as a whole was 10%.

___

AP reporters Barbara Surk in Nice, France, and Masha Macpherson, Oleg Cetinic and Sylvie Corbet in Paris contributed.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Protesters shout during a demonstration in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
            
              A protester runs with the CGT labor union flag during a demonstration, in Nantes, western France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Industries across France went on strike Tuesday to push for pay hikes that keep up with rising inflation, ramping up the clash between workers and the government after weeks of walkouts that hobbled oil refineries and sparked gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
            
              Protesters hold a banner that reads, "who sows misery reaps anger" during a demonstration, in Nantes, western France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Industries across France went on strike Tuesday to push for pay hikes that keep up with rising inflation, ramping up the clash between workers and the government after weeks of walkouts that hobbled oil refineries and sparked gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
            
              A protester writes on a banner during a demonstration in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
            
              Protesters shout during a demonstration, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
            
              Protesters shout during a demonstration in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
            
              A protester runs with the CGT labor union flag during a demonstration, in Nantes, western France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Industries across France went on strike Tuesday to push for pay hikes that keep up with rising inflation, ramping up the clash between workers and the government after weeks of walkouts that hobbled oil refineries and sparked gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
            
              Protesters hold a banner that reads, "who sows misery reaps anger" during a demonstration, in Nantes, western France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Industries across France went on strike Tuesday to push for pay hikes that keep up with rising inflation, ramping up the clash between workers and the government after weeks of walkouts that hobbled oil refineries and sparked gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
            
              A protester writes on a banner during a demonstration in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
            
              Protesters shout during a demonstration, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
            
              Protesters shout during a demonstration in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
            
              A protester runs with the CGT labor union flag during a demonstration, in Nantes, western France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Industries across France went on strike Tuesday to push for pay hikes that keep up with rising inflation, ramping up the clash between workers and the government after weeks of walkouts that hobbled oil refineries and sparked gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
            
              Protesters hold a banner that reads, "who sows misery reaps anger" during a demonstration, in Nantes, western France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Industries across France went on strike Tuesday to push for pay hikes that keep up with rising inflation, ramping up the clash between workers and the government after weeks of walkouts that hobbled oil refineries and sparked gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
            
              A protester writes on a banner during a demonstration in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
            
              Protesters shout during a demonstration, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
            
              Protesters shout during a demonstration in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
            
              A protester runs with the CGT labor union flag during a demonstration, in Nantes, western France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Industries across France went on strike Tuesday to push for pay hikes that keep up with rising inflation, ramping up the clash between workers and the government after weeks of walkouts that hobbled oil refineries and sparked gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
            
              Protesters hold a banner that reads, "who sows misery reaps anger" during a demonstration, in Nantes, western France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. Industries across France went on strike Tuesday to push for pay hikes that keep up with rising inflation, ramping up the clash between workers and the government after weeks of walkouts that hobbled oil refineries and sparked gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)
            
              A protester writes on a banner during a demonstration in Lyon, central France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
            
              Protesters shout during a demonstration, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
            
              Protesters shout during a demonstration, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
            
              Protesters shout during a demonstration, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
            
              Protesters march during a demonstration, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
            
              A protester runs with a flag of the National Confederation of Labor Union (CNT) during a demonstration, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
            
              Drivers wait to fill their gas tank in a station in Anglet, southwestern France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
            
              Drivers wait to fill their gas tank in a station in Anglet, southwestern France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
            
              Drivers wait to fill their gas tank in a station in Anglet, southwestern France, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Bob Edme)
            
              Protesters gather ahead of a demonstration, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
            
              Protesters stand in the smoke of flares during a demonstration, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)
            
              Protesters shout during a demonstration, Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022 in Marseille, southern France. France is in the grip of transport strikes and protests for salary raise on Tuesday that threaten to dovetail with days of wage strikes that have already hobbled fuel refineries and depots, sparking chronic gasoline shortages around the country. (AP Photo/Daniel Cole)

AP

People walk past an electronic stock board at Taipei Exchange in Taipei, Taiwan, Monday, Jan. 30, 2...
Associated Press

Asian shares mixed after last week’s gains on Wall Street

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were trading mixed in Asia on Monday after Wall Street benchmarks closed higher on Friday, capping a third week of gains out of the last four. Tokyo was nearly unchanged, Mumbai and Shanghai rose while Hong Kong, Seoul and Sydney fell. Attention is turning to Wednesday’s decision by the Federal Reserve […]
22 hours ago
A worker inspects solar panels at Premier Energies Solar on the outskirts of Hyderabad, India, Wedn...
Associated Press

Taxes slow India’s solar power rollout but boost manufacture

BENGALURU, India (AP) — In May last year Fortum India, a subsidiary of a Finnish solar developer, won the bid for a solar power project in the state of Gujarat. The project was due to be completed three months ago and would have generated enough electricity for 200,000 homes. But like many other solar power […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

3 kids taken in Nebraska carjacking found with frostbite

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — Three young children were being treated for frostbite in Nebraska Sunday after police said two suspects stole an SUV while they were inside. Around 3 a.m. Sunday, when temperatures were around 0 degrees, a man reported that his 2012 Chevrolet Traverse had been stolen with his three children inside, said […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Netherland's Prime Minister Mark Rutte, left, speaks with U.S. President Joe Biden during a ...
Associated Press

Source: Dutch, Japanese join US limits on chip tech to China

WASHINGTON (AP) — Japan and the Netherlands have agreed to a deal with the U.S. to restrict China’s access to materials used to make advanced computer chips, a person familiar with the agreement told The Associated Press on Sunday. The person declined to be identified because the deal hasn’t yet been formally announced. It’s unclear […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Missouri mom convicted of killing her infant twins

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Missouri mother who reported that her infant twins were stillborn has been convicted of manslaughter. Maya Caston, 28, was convicted Friday of second-degree involuntary manslaughter and two counts of child endangerment. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that jury found her guilty of lesser charges instead of convicting her of second-degree […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Annie Wersching arrives at the FOX Winter All-Star Party in Pasadena, Calif., on Jan. 11, 20...
Associated Press

’24,’ ‘Runaways’ actor Annie Wersching has died at 45

Actor Annie Wersching, best known for playing FBI agent Renee Walker in the series “24” and providing the voice for Tess in the video game “The Last of Us,” has died. She was 45. Wersching passed away Sunday morning in Los Angeles following a battle with cancer, her publicist told The Associated Press. The type […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

Stream 4K and more with powerful, high-speed fiber internet

Picking which streaming services to subscribe to are difficult choices, and there is no room for internet that cannot handle increased demands.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
French strike pits workers vs. government as inflation bites