France strikes over inflation as refinery and railway workers pull out


Workers across France have come out to demand better wages amid dire warnings of a harsh winter in Europe. Many on the continent suffer from record inflation and an energy crisis.

Here’s what you need to know about the strikes that escalated in France:

How did the French strikes start?

They started weeks ago with refinery workers striking to demand higher salaries, arguing that oil and gas companies had reaped profits from rising energy prices in Europe β€” a trend driven by the Russian war in Ukraine.

The strikes led to fuel shortages and lines at stations around France, with some pumps running out. Nearly a third of the country’s gas stations ran out of fuel by Sunday.

Protesters and riot police clashed in the streets of Paris on October 18, as a result of fuel shortages and industrial strikes across the country. (Video: The Washington Post)

France paid money in the energy crisis, but people are still angry

But the strikes also reflect broader resentment and concern about how the costs of the increase will be borne House bills this winter.

Starting with refinery and oil depot workers – who have extended their strike – the protests have spread to other industries. The strikes have also affected French nuclear power plants, where workers want higher salaries.

On Tuesday, thousands of people, including railway workers and high school students, joined a nationwide strike that day that caused some transportation disruptions. Follow this big action March in Paris The Sunday was promoted by opposition politicians and focused on the rising cost of living.

Unions pledged more work. One of the largest unions in the country that helps lead strikes, CGT, mentioned More than 180 protests across the country on Tuesday, involving 70,000 people in the capital, Paris.

But the Ministry of the Interior gave lower Estimation From About 107,000 demonstrators, including 13,000 in Paris. He. She He said Eleven people were arrested and eight law enforcement officers were lightly wounded in clashes with protesters on Tuesday.

Is inflation driving the protests?

Affected by inflation, purchasing power ranked very high as a major concern for the French, who cited this point of concern three times more than immigration and crime in a survey. Posted this month.

The government has spent billions subsidizing gasoline prices and energy bills, but the prices of many supermarket essentials are still rising.

While France has taken bolder steps than many countries to contain the impact of the energy crisis in Europe and curb inflation, the show of frustration has raised questions about whether that will be enough in the long run. He also drew comparisons to the 2018 yellow vest movement, which kicked off proposed tax increases but widened over weeks to include grievances about social inequality.

How does France deal with the cost of living crisis?

This time, as the conflict in Ukraine prompted an energy supply crisis in Europe, it was natural gas prices They were capped at fall 2021 levels and energy price increases were limited to 4%.

How Europe is responding to Russia’s ‘energy war’ as winter approaches

The caps, which are set to rise next year, are expected to remain lower than in many European countries, and the French government is offering vulnerable families a short-term relief payment of up to $195, which critics say will not offset the inflation levels that are hitting. poor communities.

The simmering anger turns into a challenge to the French president Emmanuel Macron’s second term. In Parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Elizabeth Born He said he was β€œIt is unacceptable that a minority continues to obstruct the country,” she said, and said it was time to get back to work.

However, the country’s Minister of the Interior, Gerald Darmanin, He confessed France’s ‘salary problem’ urges employers to ‘raise their salaries when possible’.

Rick Nowak contributed to this report.

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