In the wake of French president Francois Hollande using an obscure article of the constitution in order to bypass parliament and force through labor reforms that are viewed as unfavorable to workers, protests have been ongoing in the country.
Now, French refinery workers have launched a strike to hit the government where it hurts the most. Protesters have blocked deliveries to gas stations from at least half of France's eight refineries, and workers at three Total refineries have voted to halt all output by Tuesday according to France 24.
The news sent drivers rushing to gas stations in order to fill up their tanks while they could. About 820 stations out of 11,500 in France were out of fuel on Sunday, and another 800 were lacking at least one type of fuel.
Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that the situation is fully under control, and that there are enough fuel reserves to deal with the blockade.
"We have the situation fully under control. I think that some of the refineries and depots that were blocked are unblocked or will be in the coming hours and days. In any case, we have the reserves to deal with these blockades."
Kristine Petrosyan, an oil market analyst for refining at the International Energy Agency adds "there is a noticeable fuel shortage in the North West and North of the country, including parts of the greater Paris region."
Strikers aim to block access to fuel infrastructure, including refineries, fuel depots, and ports, so imports won’t reach consumers if fuel depots continue to be blocked. France is net gasoline exporter, "but world’s biggest diesel importer" - It imports ~420k b/d of diesel, and exports ~100k b/d gasoline.
Moments ago, Total chimed in as well, saying 612 of its French gas stations have a partial or full fuel shortage, as a result of 2 of 9 fuel depots being blocked by striking workers.
For now, it doesn't appear the situation is "fully under control" in fact quite the opposite. And if the striking workers are indeed serious in their demands, the already unpopular French government may have just two options: walk back its labor reform law, or suffer a crippling economic slowdown, something which GDP "powerhouse" France can hardly afford.