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French union calls for 24-hour worker strike at all refineries, oil terminals

10.24.2012  | 

The workers at all the refineries in the country will walk out Nov. 5 to protest against the order of a local court to liquidate the refinery of Petit-Couronne, on the northern French coast, which belonged to insolvent Swiss-based refiner Petroplus SA, unless a buyer for the plant appears by then.

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By INTI LANDAURO

A French labor union representing workers from the country's refineries and oil storages will strike for one day on Nov. 5 to oppose the closure of a fourth refinery in the country in four years and demand the government to intervene to protect the industry.

The workers at all the refineries in the country will walk out Nov. 5 to protest against the order of a local court to liquidate the refinery of Petit-Couronne, on the northern French coast, which belonged to insolvent Swiss-based refiner Petroplus SA, unless a buyer for the plant appears by Nov. 5.

"The strike is a protest against the possible closure of the Petit-Couronne refinery, but also to demand a solution to keep the industry afloat," Charles Foulard, a leader of the CGT Union for the petrochemical industry, said Wednesday.

If no solution is found for the Petit-Couronne refinery, it will be the fourth refinery to stop operating in the country since 2009 as the French industry struggles to compete with Asia and the Middle East, where costs are lower.

The CGT union representatives have asked the government to nationalize refineries or enforce measures to limit imports of refined fuels to protect the remaining plants.

Petroplus, which operated five refineries in Europe, filed for insolvency at the beginning of the year and since then three of its refineries were sold and one has been converted into a fuel terminal.

The company ran out of cash in January after struggling for months with weak demand due to the economic slowdown in Europe and overcapacity amid tighter credit conditions, high crude prices and competition.

The workers of the Petit-Couronne refinery Wednesday blocked an oil storage terminal owned by French company Rubis SCA in the northern city of Rouen.


Dow Jones Newswires



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Cameron McCord
10.26.2012

So, the refining business in France is not competitive. In response, the unions will strike to make it less competitive. They seek to compel the government to keep the least viable facilities in business, thereby making it even harder for the remaining facilities to stay in business. Or, better yet, nationalize them all, a wildly successful business model demonstrated by Venezuela and Nigeria. Genius. Pure genius.

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