French workers to strike at EDF nuclear power plant

France‘s General Confederation of Labour (Confédération Générale du Travail, or CGT) union is set to begin a 24-hour strike Thursday night at a nuclear power plant.

The strike is set for 21:00 CET at EDF’s Nogent nuclear plant (pictured) in the commune (township) of Nogent-sur-Seine, 120 km southeast of Paris.

Triggering the strike is a standoff between the union and France’s government over proposed labour laws which aim to make hiring and firing easier. The CGT says the proposed laws will erode workers’ protection.

Strikes have already caused a transport fuel crisis in the country, with the government tapping into its reserves.

Laurent Langlard, a spokesman for CGT’s energy federation CGT-Energie, was quoted as saying that workers at other French nuclear power plants will meet today to decide on possible further strikes.

The union, which Langlard said represents almost half of France’s nuclear sector workers, voted yesterday for a 24-hour halt in production at the Nogent plant.

The 2600 MW pressurized water reactor plant produces about a third of the àƒÅ½le-de-France region’s annual power consumption and employs around 700 workers.

Arnaud Pacot, general secretary of CGT-Energie de l’Aube, told Francetv Info that the union’s aim “is not to bring down the network”. However, according to a report in newspaper Le Monde, a CGT-Energie spokeswoman, Marie-Claire Cailletaud, said: “Now is the time to act. Therefore we call on staff to participate on Thursday in the movement and turn up the heat, either by decreases in load or cuts on the network”.

According to the union, the No 2 reactor at the Nogent plant will be shut down tonight, while the No 1 reactor has already been stopped after an unnamed technical problem. Once the reactor is shut down, it will take three to five days to restart.

An EDF spokesman was quoted as saying that it is “difficult” to predict the effect of the shutdown.

The news comes as EDF has again delayed its investment decision on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project in the UK. The company has opened a 60-day consultation with the French unions, which have expressed concerns about the project’s readiness to proceed.

Image credit:à‚ Clicgauche on fr.wikipedia

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