每日英語跟讀 Ep.K474: French Strike May Presage a Winter of Discontent
Across France, a third of the gas stations are fully or partly dry, victims of a fast-widening strike that has spread to most of the country’s major oil refineries, as well as some nuclear plants and railways, offering a preview of a winter of discontent as inflation and energy shortages threaten to undercut Europe’s stability and its united front against Russia for its war in Ukraine.
At the very least the strike — pitting refinery workers seeking a greater share of the surging profits against oil giants TotalEnergies and Exxon Mobil — has already emerged as the first major social crisis of Emmanuel Macron’s second term as president, as calls grow for a general strike.
The widening social unrest is just what European leaders fear as inflation hits its highest level in decades, driven in part by snarls in pandemic global supply chains, but also by the mounting impact of the tit-for-tat economic battle between Europe and Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
Economic anxiety is palpable across Europe, driving large protests in Prague, Britain’s biggest railway strike in three decades, as well as walkouts by bus drivers, call center employees and criminal defense lawyers, and causing many governments to introduce relief measures to cushion the blow and ward off still more turbulence. Airline workers in Spain and Germany went on strike recently, demanding wage increases to reflect the rising cost of living.
Workers at half of France’s eight refineries are continuing to picket for higher wages in line with inflation, as well as a cut of the sky-high profits their companies made over recent months, as the price of gasoline has surged.
Earlier last week, Exxon Mobil announced that it had come to an agreement with two of four unions working at its sites. But the wage increase was 1 percentage point less, and half the bonus, that Confédération Générale du Travail, or CGT, France’s second-largest union, had demanded.
In its own news release, TotalEnergies said the company continued to aim for “fair compensation for the employees” and to ensure they benefited “from the exceptional results generated” by the company.
On Friday, two unions at TotalEnergies announced they had reached a deal for a 7% wage increase and a bonus. But CGT, which has demanded a 10% hike, walked out of the negotiation and said it would continue the strike.
道達爾的兩個工會周五宣布，他們已就加薪7%與獎金達成協議，但要求加薪10%的法國總工會退出談判，並表示將繼續罷工。Source article: https://udn.com/news/story/6904/6722930