France: a movement similar to the "Yellow Vests" back?

Fuel, calls for strikes, demonstrations, retirement, unemployment and salary issues, an angry people… Here is the image of a France that has been disturbed for more than three weeks now. It seems that a social crisis is starting to take on greater proportions and yet far from over. The surge in prices, followed by the fuel crisis, has only one meaning, the French will tend to turn towards a new movement similar to that of the “yellow vests”.

The deterioration of the social climate began at the end of September with a lack of fuel in the service stations of the company TotalEnergies, in the North and in Île-de-France. The rebates on fuel offered by the firm generated a sharp increase in demand. Added to this is the strike movement by employees of the refineries and fuel depots of TotalEnergies and Esso-ExxonMobil, which has considerably slowed down deliveries at the pump. In addition, these employees have demanded, through a strike, a 10% wage increase which goes against what was previously negotiated.

However, nearly half of the stations report a shortage of fuel, while around a third in France declare a completely exhausted stock since deliveries are barely arriving or not arriving at all. This situation has created frustration among French motorists and has caused great tension among the executive as well as pressure that is mounting every day.

The metropolis was marked this Tuesday, also, by a day of mobilization and interprofessional strike to demand salary increases and challenge the current fuel situation. The protests now extend to transport, education, retirement and even electricity and gas distributors. The French interior ministry revealed the participation of more than 100,000 strikers, indicating that this movement is even stronger than that of September 29. The demonstrations took place under “violent” conditions resulting in a few broken windows, a dozen arrests and several injuries between strikers and law enforcement officers.

This Wednesday morning, the French Minister of Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher announced that 22.8% of service stations in the Republic are still short of fuel. In addition, a social movement took place today disrupting the circulation of several trains, metro lines, trams, buses…

The government is worried because it has still not succeeded in overcoming the advent of the multiple crises that the country has experienced. However, several French analysts are above all not afraid that these demonstrations will take the same trajectory as the movement of “yellow vests”. According to statements by Philippe Crevel, a specialist in macroeconomic issues, to AFP “thehe movement of “yellow vests” was a crisis not organized by unions or political groups, but which originated on the margins of intermediary bodies. Even if there are certain bridges with the yellow vests, the current movement is organized by the unions or France Insoumise and is therefore of a different nature”.

He thus justifiesthat today, it is inflation and the high cost of living that are being singled out”. Yesterday’s demonstration, whether it was attended by 30,000 people according to official figures or 140,000 according to figures from France Insoumise, was not a surge in the number of demonstrators.“.

It is a succession of events that several French households describe as unbearable. The health crisis, then inflation after the Ukrainian crisis, life which is becoming more and more expensive, purchasing power which is falling and now an ongoing fuel supply crisis, France seems to be opening the doors to movements that will not end soon if capacity blockages are not resolved quickly.

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