Motorists queue for fuel at a gas station in Paris on October 13, 2022, as filling stations across France run low on petrol following a weeks-long strike by refinery workers.
Paris CNN Business  — 

French President Emmanuel Macron called a crisis meeting with senior ministers on Monday to address crippling strikes at gas refineries that has caused fuel pumps to run dry.

Macron declared Monday his desire for a solution “as quickly as possible” to the protests, promising to “do his utmost” to find one, according to CNN affiliate BFMTV.

The government ordered strikers at two fuel depots in Feyzin, near Lyon, to return to work for several hours on Monday or face criminal charges, according to France’s energy minister, Agnes Pannier-Runacher.

Lyon is one of the worst hit regions of the country, with almost 40% of gas stations out of at least one fuel on Sunday. Elsewhere, nearly one third of gas stations have run out of at least one fuel, with the situation expected to worsen this week, according to French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.

This the second time in recent weeks that the French government has taken the unusual step of requisitioning essential staff in the face of weeks-long strikes at refineries owned by ExxonMobil and TotalEnergies, which have disrupted supply to thousands of gas stations.

While ExxonMobil workers agreed to end their blockade of the Fos-sur-Mer refinery and depot in southern France late last week following salary negotiations, strikes continue at TotalEnergies refineries.

One of France’s largest unions, CGT, has refused to accept the terms of a wage deal agreed upon between TotalEnergies and two other unions, CFE-CGC and CFDT. The agreement includes a 7% salary increase for 2023 and a bonus for all employees equivalent to one month’s pay. CGT has demanded a 10% pay raise.