Oil Strike May 29, 2008Posted by gordonwatts in Marseille, politics.
There were long lines at the gas stations the other day. Turns out the local french fishermen are blocking the oil tankers from entering the harbor and unloading the oil – so people started to get afraid there wouldn’t be enough gas.
The strike is over the price of fuel for the fisher boats.
When I first heard this I thought it was a bit odd. In general, Europe hasn’t noticed the run-up in the cost of gas the way the USA has. Two reasons — first, the euro is not weak so the purchasing power of the dollar hasn’t changed much. Second is that gas over here is very heavily taxed – much more so than the USA – which means a doubling in the cost of oil (or whatever) translates into a smaller add on to the cost of the gas.
it turns out, however, that fishermen get a tax break. Basically, I’m told, no taxes at all. So when the raw cost of diesel fuel doubles, which apparently it has, people like the fishermen feel it directly. In France, the answer is a strike. They are demanding the government pay the different.
Wow! I said. No way, right!? Way, my friends assured me. In fact, the government had already agreed, but apparently wanted to pay more than the EU would allow them and so some high level negotiations were on going. And the fishermen were trying to keep the pressure up.
This would never happen in America, right? I mean, look at the farm industry, they… oh, wait. Never mind.
N.B.: Gas is currently 1.5 euros here in France. That makes it 6 euros per gallon, and at the current exchange rate of about $1.5/euro, about 9 dollars per gallon. It is no wonder the place is filled with people driving around on scooters!!