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France

Workers at several Total refineries end strike, but not at key Dunkirk site

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-25

Workers at several French refineries ended their strike Wednesday after winning concessions from oil giant Total in a dispute over cuts in the sector, while the fate of the crucial Dunkirk refinery remains to be decided.

AFP - Workers at several French refineries on Wednesday ended a strike that has run fuel pumps dry, after winning concessions from oil giant Total in a dispute over cuts in the sector.
   
AFP reporters saw workers at the Total refinery in Feyzin, near the eastern city of Lyon, and four other plants across the country, vote in their hundreds to end their eight-day old strike at afternoon meetings.
   
The CGT union, which has played a leading role in negotiations, said talks with management on Tuesday had made "satisfactory progress."
   
Total made a formal agreement that it would not shut or sell its refineries in France in the next five years -- but the accord does not cover the plant at the heart of the strike, in Dunkirk, northern France.
   
The fate of the Dunkirk refinery remains to be decided at a works committee meeting on March 8, and the CGT and other unions warned they may strike again at that date.
   
Workers at Dunkirk, who have been on strike for six weeks, rolled their action over at a vote on Wednesday.
   
Under government pressure to safeguard jobs, Total has promised not to close Dunkirk but has not committed to maintain its refining activities, prompting tough negotiations on the restructuring of jobs there.
   
The world's major oil companies are grappling with a crisis in the refining sector which is forcing them to cut back heavily to staunch losses.
   
Total is ranked as the sixth biggest oil company in the world by sales and is France's biggest company by market capitalisation.
   
Pumps at hundreds of its filling stations had run out of fuel during the strike over the past days just as families hit the road for the mid-term holidays.
   
Christophe Hiou, a CGT representative at the Donges refinery in western France, estimated on Wednesday that it would take three days to get the refinery running fully again, but said there were tanks full of fuel in the plant ready to go.

Date created : 2010-02-24

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