London — Staff at seven of France's eight refineries joined a general strike Thursday, affecting oil product deliveries,according to companies and media reports.
French labor unions including the CGT, FO and FSU had called on employees in all sectors to take part in industrial action against the government's pension reforms.
Total reported difficulties in accessing its terminals at the Gonfreville, Grandpuits, Donges and Feyzin refineries and La Mede biofuels plant Thursday morning, the company said. In addition, access had been difficult to the terminals at Portes-les-Valence and Puget-sur-Argens.
Total said, with 200 oil terminals in France, supply to its retail stations had not been affected, despite the blockades.
Employees at Petroineos' Lavera refinery in the south of the country also joined the strike Thursday morning, according to media reports. This was expected to severely disrupt operations at the major Mediterranean refined products hub that could cause up to 10 days' delay for loadings, traders said. The company declined to comment.
The refineries will continue to operate, albeit at reduced rates, a union source said.
ExxonMobil, which operates the Gravenchon refinery near Le Havre and the Fos-sur-Mer plant in the south, said Gravenchon had not been hit by the strike, but there had been a minor impact on road traffic due to external blockades around the site.
At Fos, "a limited number of employees" had joined the protest and as a consequence truck and rail loadings were disrupted, while the refinery continued to operate at normal throughput, the company said.
Rail transport in France was particularly affected, with a strike at national train company SNCF as well as at RATP, the operator of Paris' public transport system. Around 90% of high speed trains are affected, with many flightsalso cancelled.
Ports around France were also halting work for 24 hours Thursday, the Federation of Ports and Docks, part of the CGT union, said in a statement.
Shipping sources said operations at ports are not disrupted significantly because not too many vessels are loading, but concerns are mounting that the strike might be extended into Friday.
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