From Alison L via e-mail:
On the French news May 24 (France 2), the reporting was dominated by the CGT (one of the unions) on strike – they are blocking refineries where oil is distributed to gas stations etc. There are long lines, rationing and gas shortages at the pump. 25% of the country has shortages including the north and Paris, and the southwest.
The CEO of Total, Patrick Pouyanné, made threatening noises about withdrawing investment from sites in France. Total employs 33,000 people in France, and has 5 refineries. Total plans to invest 600 million euros, and that is what they are threatening to withdraw. Of course they deny that it is blackmail.
The workers are very determined to persuade the (socialist) government of François Hollande, who is unpopular, to withdraw the “loi El Khomri” or labor law reforms (the relevant minister is the young Myriam El Khomri) that the unions and other workers in France have perceived as reducing their rights and protections.
The strikes are inspiring others to go on strike, and the “contrôleurs” at airports, or at least CDG in Paris and ALL civil aviation workers there are going to strike on June 5. Train workers will strike May 25 and 26, and the SNCF (national rail) from May 31 in a possibly indefinite strike, and RATP (Paris public transport and métro) from June 2 onward. Dockworkers this Thurs & Fri will strike throughout France.
The Euro Cup football (soccer) tournament starts in about 2 weeks, so this is NOT ideal for the government. Naturally, the tone-deaf Hollande missed the point, and is digging in and refusing to revisit the labor law reforms that have caused so much turmoil and unrest. If Hollande does not fold in the coming days, it is going to be chaos in France right before the Euro Cup and high tourist season and summer travel. The workers who were interviewed at the strike sites were in good humor and practical; they know exactly what they are doing and why. Unions are warning of strikes of unlimited duration.
(they claim Total has 6 refinery sites, but I believe the French news reporting of 5 sites)
Also, this is bigger than just oil refinery workers.
However, they did this to Sarkozy in 2010 over pension reforms:
Any reader intelligence, either from on the ground or from French sites or Twitter very much appreciated. Please keep us appraised either via e-mail or in the comments section of Links as this struggle progresses.