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Three French Total refineries in 11th day of pay strike

General view of the French oil giant Total refinery of Grandpuits, southeast of Paris, October 13, 2010. REUTERS/Charles Platiau
General view of the French oil giant Total refinery of Grandpuits, southeast of Paris, October 13, 2010. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - Workers at three of Total's five oil refineries in France extended a strike over pay into an 11th day on Monday after those at a fourth plant agreed at the weekend to return to work.

Still affected by the strike being led by the CGT union are the Gonfreville refinery in Normandy, La Mede in the south and Feyzin near Lyon, CGT officials said.

"We're waiting for management to make a gesture," Frederic Ambrosio, a CGT official at La Mede said. "We've already been on strike for 10 days, this isn't a little two-day action."

Total said the strike was not threatening fuel supply, echoing comments made by France's oil industry lobby that last week played down comparisons with a 2010 strike which led to shortages at pumps.

"The current situation is not creating any major difficulty in fuel supply. All necessary measures have been taken to ensure deliveries during the holiday period," a spokeswoman said.

Striking workers at Gonfreville, Feyzin and La Mede on Monday blocked day staff from taking over from night teams, with the aim of leaving Total in breach of labor legislation limiting shifts to 12 hours, CGT officials said.

OIL MARKET IMPACT

Workers at Feyzin also staged a go-slow protest on a motorway close to the refinery, disrupting traffic for about an hour and a half, a CGT official at the site said.

The CGT has rejected an annual pay offer that has been accepted by other unions at Total's refineries.

The lifting of the strike at the 219,000 barrel-per-day Donges plant, where preparations to restart production were under way, meant about 36 percent of France's refining capacity was still affected, compared with 52 percent when Donges was on strike.

The Gonfreville has a capacity of 247,000 bpd, La Mede 153,000 bpd and Feyzin 109,000 bpd, according to figures published by Total on its website.

While Europe's depressed refining sector had spare capacity to make up for the idled French plants, any extended strike could impact oil product markets, analysts said.

"If the strikes continue then the other European refineries are likely to run a bit harder," Oliver Jakob, analyst at Switzerland-based Petromatrix, said.

"But the U.S. will also contribute to replace the lost product output from the French refineries and net that should therefore result in lower crude oil demand in Europe."

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz, additional reporting by Ron Bousso; editing by Sybille de La Hamaide and Jason Neely)

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