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Several French refineries remain on strike, unions to decide upon shutting plants Tuesday: CGT

London — Several French refineries remain on strike, with all plants expected to join a national day of protests December 17, when a decision will be made whether to start halting units, the CGT union said Wednesday.

Staff at a number of French refineries continued to strike Wednesday, with many plants at minimum throughput, CGT a union source and local media reports said.

French labor unions, including the CGT, FO and FSU, last week called on employees in all sectors to take part in industrial action against the government's pension reforms.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in a special address at noon said the reform would go ahead, although the government is prepared to make concessions, including applying the reform only to those born after 1975, instead of 1963, and getting rid of special schemes only for people born after 1980. He also pledged the reform would be applied progressively.

Following the statement, the ministry of ecology organized meetings with the various professional organizations to present the proposals.

The labor union CGT, meanwhile, renewed its earlier call for industrial action on December 12 and 17.

French oil industry group UFIP said Wednesday that all refineries are operating, although oil terminals at some sites, including Gonfreville, Grandpuits, Donges and La Mede, are blockaded. However, supply from ExxonMobil and Petroineos refineries has not been affected, UFIP said. It said 2.4% of retail stations, out of a total 11,000, have problems with supply.

Employees at Total's Grandpuits and Donges refineries and its La Mede biofuels plant, as well as Petroineos' Lavera refinery, have extended the strike with no product deliveries, CGT sources said . While the refineries continue to operate, throughput has been reduced.

Total's Feyzin refinery, which was shut due to a strike in October and November, continues to operate normally and deliver products, as does ExxonMobil's Gravenchon refinery, sources said.

Workers at ExxonMobil's Fos refinery have been joining the strike on and off, with deliveries partly affected, although currently is not affected.

At Total's Donges refinery, the strike will be suspended Thursday evening through December 16, but the walkout will continue at the other strike-hit refineries, a CGT source said late Wednesday. On Tuesday the union expects all refineries to join the day of protests. Meanwhile, product deliveries will be allowed from some plants as stocks are growing.

Operations at the Fos and Lavera oil terminals had resumed Tuesday evening but another 24-hour strike is expected Thursday, when operations will be suspended, according to shipping sources. The union of the port and dock workers, meanwhile, called for a 24-hour strike on December 17.

France has stocks of crude oil and oil products sufficient to cover three months of demand, according to local media reports.

-- Elza Turner,

-- Virginie Malicier,

-- Chris To,

-- Edited by Richar Rubin,