Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Monday, 22 February 2010

France says Total strike will not cause petrol shortage

Striking French Total workers
The strike has now been continuing for more than a month

The French government has pledged to prevent any shortages of petrol and diesel supplies, as a strike by Total workers shows no signs of ending.

"The government will take measures to ensure that France will not be locked down," Industry Minister Christian Estrosi said in a radio interview.

Staff have been striking for more than a month at the six refineries owned by the country's biggest oil group.

The dispute is over the possible closure of Total's Dunkirk refinery.


Mr Estrosi told the Europe 1 radio station that he was urging strikers "to not take [the French public] hostage".

His comments came after talks between Total and the CGT union broke down on Sunday.

The CGT is now calling for the strike to spread to the two French oil refineries owned by US group Exxon Mobil, where strikes are planned for Tuesday.

The union says that 80% of Total's refinery workers remain on strike.

Last week, workers staged a sit-in protest at the Dunkirk facility, at which Total stopped production last September because of a fall in demand.

Mr Estrosi has called on Total and the CGT to resume talks.

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