For several days, the refiners’ strike at TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil has been making headlines. For good reason: the movement has caused a real shortage of fuel in the country. And if the situation seems to be improving, another strike, in an equally “vital” sector, creates a new tumult in France.
On Wednesday October 12, the National Federation of Mines and Energy (FNME) of the CGT announced a strike by its agents, in five power stations in the four corners of France, including that of Gravelines (North), the largest of France. And as with refiners, claims are mainly focused on purchasing power.
“We would like our salaries to be increased in relation to inflation, to 5%. This year, we only received a 1.3% increase, and that is not enough to offset the rise in the cost of living”, explains Thomas Plancot, FNME-CGT representative for the nuclear production division.
However, the two strikes are unrelated. “We have been in action since the summer, and there, it started again, but obviously as the movement has less direct consequences on the daily life of the French, it is therefore less ‘visible’”.
However, the magnitude of this strike in the nuclear sector is not the least.
Maintenance work was thus suspended on eleven reactors, in the middle of a “major refit” at EDF. According to data reported by Usine Nouvelle, 4% of the total production of nuclear energy was affected by the social movement on October 6th.
And it’s not over. Because this strike among the agents of the energy supplier could well last…
The movement is in fact delaying the maintenance of several reactors in EDF power plants… Can they be restarted before winter? Or is there a risk of a serious power shortage?
Thomas Plancot reassures: “the goal is not to deprive the French of electricity and cause cuts. He specifies: “unlike our comrades at Total, we are a public service, EDF, and we can be requisitioned at maturity if the network requires it”.
RTE, the manager of the electricity transmission network, is monitoring the situation closely. “They determine the production needs in advance, and if we come to the obligation to put a slice back on the network, we will be forced to do so”, adds the CGT representative.
The strike movement aims above all to weigh on the company’s accounts. “Each day of mobilization is 1 million lost for EDF in normal times, and at the moment it is much more”, supports Thomas Plancot with Planet.
In the same way, all the power stations in France cannot fully participate in the movement.
The citizen, theoretically, therefore has nothing to worry about. But for businesses, it’s something else…
On Europe 1, Franck Redondo, the Force Ouvrière representative of the CSE at the Gravelines plant, said Thursday morning: “Citizens will never be relieved, never, nor hospitals. You shouldn’t scare people. Perhaps large CAC 40 companies which will be offloaded, of course, but the citizen does not risk anything.
Thomas Plancot does not rule out this possibility either.
“There could be actions, in connection with the comrades of the distribution and the network, with targeted cuts. They could concern the large companies of the CAC 40 or the public establishments of the prefecture type… But these cuts will not be generalized, and its possible actions are not planned for the moment”, he explains.
Still, winter promises to be tense in the country. Thursday, October 13, during the social and economic council of the EDF, the secretary of the committee Philippe Page le Mérour, affirmed that he did not see “how it would be possible to supply the French without cuts this winter”.
For Thomas Plancot, however, this situation has little to do with the current strike. It would rather be the unfortunate result of a global disorganization within EDF, brought about by the privatization of the company in 2005.