Labor unrest can now be added to the list of threats to the electric power grid, as unions are threatening to strike and shut down the nuclear plants that provide most of France’s electricity.
The workers are upset about proposed changes to labor laws and planning to demonstrate their power with a work stoppage, Reuters reported. Most of the electricity in France comes from 19 nuclear plants, staffed by members of a union called CGT.
The CGT’s leaders are angry about proposed changes to the law that would make it easier to hire and fire workers. The union already has disrupted life in France by blocking access to oil refineries, which has led to gasoline shortages at about one-fifth of the country’s gas pumps.
France can import electricity from other nations like Germany, so widespread blackouts may not happen. Unfortunately, there are other ways that unions can disrupt the grid and other basic services.
In 2004, CGT members shut off power to schools, train stations, political party offices and the homes of conservative politicians to protest government policies they did not like, Reuters reported. Last year, workers turned off the power in a neighborhood in Audincourt, France, where Prime Minister Manuel Valls was giving a speech. Valls is a member of the Socialist Party; the CGT or General Confederation of Labor is composed of his political rivals, including France’s Communist Party.
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