French Workers Strike, Demand Pay Increases
Tens of thousands of French workers took to the streets Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, across the country, striking for pay hikes that keep up with rising inflation.
Photo Insert: “It’s time to go back to work,” was French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne's call.
The industrial action came after weeks of walkouts that have hobbled French oil refineries and sparked gasoline shortages around the country, Nicolas Garriga and Boubkar Benzabat reported for the Associated Press (AP).
“It’s time to go back to work,” French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said Tuesday about people on strike in the French refineries of oil giant TotalEnergies.
Rail and other transportation workers, trucking and bus companies, some high school teachers, and public hospital employees have heeded a call by an oil workers’ union to push for salary increases and protest government intervention in the refinery strikes.
According to the Interior Ministry, over 100,000 people marched Tuesday in multiple protests in French cities. Thousands also took to the streets Sunday to march against rising prices.
Tuesday’s protests in France come after the left-wing CGT union rejected a deal over a pay increase that oil giant TotalEnergies struck with two other unions Friday. The CFDT and CFE-CGC unions, which together represent a majority of the group’s French workers, agreed to a 7% pay rise and a financial bonus.
Strikers demanded higher wages from the windfall profits of energy companies that have seen high oil and gas prices as Russia’s war in Ukraine aggravates an energy crisis.
But the CGT rejected the deal, holding out for a 10% pay rise and urging that the protests continue, Barbara Surk, Masha Macpherson, Oleg Cetinic and Sylvie Corbet also reported for AP.
The CGT’s secretary general, Philippe Martinez, said “our demands are more than ever on the agenda, the question of salaries. We see that this is the No. 1 priority of the French.” “Inflation affects all workers in Europe,” Martinez added.
“We can see that the profits of big companies are exploding and that employees are being told their pay cannot be increased, that there is no money. So, this anger is widespread in Europe”.