News ID: 107513
Publish Date : 07 October 2022 - 22:12

PARIS (Dispatches) - The cost-of-living crisis has prompted workers from energy sectors, railways and airlines across Europe to either threaten or undertake strike action.
Now, strikes by energy sector workers are beginning to wreak havoc on French fuel and power supplies, with petrol stations that slashed prices at the pump in recent weeks hit hard as they struggle with runaway demand and low stocks. The fuel shortages have been the most acute in northern France, where one major TotalEnergies storage facility is at a standstill as workers demand higher wages to cope with inflation. Local authorities said on Thursday they had obtained access to strategic fuel stocks to ease the situation as huge queues formed outside petrol stations and some ran dry. They have also banned the sale of petrol and diesel in jerry cans. But strains are being felt elsewhere in the country too, and have exposed the limits of government efforts to contain the fallout from an energy crisis ravaging Europe.
Workers across several industries, including at oil refineries and at beleaguered nuclear power operator EDF, are staging walkouts to push for higher salaries. Meanwhile, the government sought to shield consumers from rising living costs by spending €7.5bn on fuel subsidies this year and leaning on Total to make additional discounts — but that has now added to the scramble at some gas stations. Drivers are now rushing to refill at Total forecourts, causing huge gridlocks from the roads of Paris to north-east France close to the border with Belgium, where people have been crossing to refuel at better rates. The prefect’s office in the Hauts-de-France region asked people to refrain from panic buying on Thursday, to help essential services fill up.
The group said it does not lack fuel stocks, even though some 60 per cent of France’s refining capacity has been affected by stoppages.
300,000 Nurses Vote for Strike in UK

UK nurses begin biggest strike ballot in more than 100 years
More than 300,000 members of Britain’s largest nursing union will begin voting on Thursday over a strike to demand a pay rise that keeps up with soaring inflation, the biggest ballot in its 106-year history.
The Royal College of Nursing said it had been forced into the move after years of real-terms wage cuts deterred people from joining the state-funded National Health Service (NHS), leaving huge staffing gaps across the service.
“We are understaffed, undervalued and underpaid,” RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen said. “For years our profession has been pushed to the edge, and now patient safety is paying the price.”
The union said it wanted a pay rise of 5% above inflation to overcome real-term pay cuts as its members struggle to cope with the soaring cost of living.
The union’s boss said below inflation pay meant workers could neither afford to stay in or join the profession, adding that “patient care was at risk” due to thousands of unfilled nursing jobs across Britain.
A spokesperson for the government’s Department of Health and Social Care said they hoped nurses would consider carefully the impact any strike would have on patients.
“We value the hard work of NHS nurses and are working hard to support them,” the spokesperson said, setting out previous pay rises it had given to the sector.
The NHS, still recovering from the hit to services during the COVID-19 pandemic, is facing its worst ever staffing crisis amid a backlog for care.
The NHS, which has provided healthcare free at the point of use since 1948, has also seen a record rise in the number of people waiting to start routine hospital treatment and increased wait times at accident and emergency departments.

* Comment: