France’s CGT trade union said a strike by transporters of hazardous materials that has caused fuel shortages could be wound down by the weekend after talks on Wednesday with the transport ministry.
The hardline CGT called the strike, which triggered panic-buying at petrol stations across the country, demanding wage increases and better working conditions for drivers.
“We’ve made a lot of progress today,” the head of the CGT’s transport branch, Jérôme Verité, told reporters after the talks. He said an agreement with the government would now be put to strikers for approval.
French oil and gas company Total said that 83 out of its 340 petrol stations in the Ile-de-France region, that includes Paris, had run out of fuel, compared with 40 stations the previous day.
Nationally, 4 percent of its 2,200 petrol stations were out of fuel and a picket line was hampering supply from three fuel depots which were operating at minimum capacity, it said.
No official figures were available for more than 11,000 petrol stations across France operated by other businesses.
France Info radio reported that 523 petrol stations in France were completely dry, while another 400 were partially out of fuel.
The shortage has been exacerbated by drivers rushing to fill up their vehicles ahead of a holiday weekend.
Prior to the union meeting, Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said in a statement there was no widespread shortage beyond supply difficulties in certain areas. She urged consumers not to panic-buy and to maintain their usual consumption patterns.
A year ago, workers striking against labour market reforms blocked access to fuel depots across France, forcing the government to dip into oil reserves to ease shortages in the build-up to the Euro 2016 football championships taking place in the country.
In the current strike, tanker drivers want their working day to be limited to 10 hours and are also demanding increased medical checks and pay due to the often hazardous nature of the products they are transporting.