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French strikes hit coal sector

World Coal,

Strike action by workers at French coal-fired power plants have hit the country’s power sector, as 3 GW of coal-fired power remains offline.

Rolling strike action, now in its third week, has affected power plants owned by EDF and E.ON France.

Unions are protesting against the planned restructuring of E.ON France’s coal-fired power plant fleet, which includes plant closures. Around 1.1 GW of E.ON France’s capacity is forecast offline until at least the end of the week.

In July 2013, an initial deal was agreed upon by union officials and company management, however, negotiations are ongoing during the strike.

France’s largest union, CGT, has also called for multi-sector industrial action on Thursday in protest against a range of social security and austerity policies, but there has been no specific statement regarding cuts to power generation.

French President François Hollande has been scrutinised in recent weeks following his alleged affair with a 41-year old actress. He has also faced criticism for his grasp of economic policy. Economic commentator, Dean Baker, suggested the president is “completely out of touch with modern economics” for advocating spending cuts “when there is no economic reason for France to be cutting back social spending at a point when its economy has enormous excess capacity.”

The strike action that has been called for Thursday is expected to impact transport networks, and major disruption during previous strikes has in fact curbed power demand as workers stay at home.

The latest data released midday Wednesday 5th February showed that power demand is forecast to peak at 74.8 GW on Thursday.

EDF has extended the notice of outage for 1.7 GW of coal-fired capacity at its Cordemais and Le Havre power plants. 

Edited from various sources by Sam Dodson

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