April 1 was to be placed under the sign of price de-escalation, with a drop in fuel prices of up to 18 cents, announced by the French government as of this Friday.
But in Auvergne Rhône-Alpes, the measure is far from having convinced the professionals.
Already on the craftsmen’s side, the 13 presidents of the Chambers of Trades and Crafts in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes published, this Friday, an open letter to the attention of deputies and senators to alert on “unprecedented situations of rising raw material costs and shortagese”, due to the instability of the markets linked to the war in Ukraine. In particular, they call on the public authorities to “go further and limit or control these increases”, including them in particular “in complementary support measures, in particular in the economic and social resilience plan which will soon be announced”.
But concern seems to have taken another step on the side of farmers, construction professionals and carriers, where a collective was formed following the blockage of the Feyzin refinery (Rhône), which had then gathered, on March 21, around fifty people.
In particular, we would find “road hauliers, timber transporters, construction professionals, landscapers, but also farmers from the Confédération paysanne Auvergne Rhône-Alpes and the Rural Coordination Auvergne Rhône-Alpes“, with in particular a “hard core” composed of about twenty professionals.
Gathered Wednesday evening in Valencin (North Isère), they decided to launch a call for a new mobilization Wednesday 6 April, and call on professionals to join them again, Chasse sur Rhône road, near the entrance to the Total refinery in Feyzin (Rhône).
A gathering announced
Contacted, the Rhône Prefecture confirms that no authorization has been requested from the State services to organize such a gathering. Same thing on March 21, when the demonstrators showed up at 4 a.m. at the gates of the refinery.
A position however assumed by the members of this collective, who do not hide their willingness to pressure and occupy”longer and necessary” field, and in particular, if their claims are not heard up to the top of the State.
“We had met for the first time in front of the Feyzin refinery to make ourselves heard, and we dispersed after being heard by the prefect of police, who assured us that our demands would go up to the highest peak of the State. We are now waiting for answers,” says at the Tribune Manuel Arandel, one of the co-founders of this group, also secretary of the Confédération paysanne de Savoie.
An action directed mainly towards the State
The announcement of this action is intended to be highly symbolic, a few days before the first round of the presidential election, and which aims primarily to denounce the rise in the price of diesel and raw materials, the prices of which have soared again since the start. of the war in Ukraine.
“Insufficiency“measures of the Resilience plan, presented a few weeks ago by Jean Castex, are among the motivations brandished by this group of independent professionals.
This announced mobilization would therefore be mainly directed towards the State, even if the Total group also seems to be targeted by the demands of this collective of professionals, which castigates “the profits made by the group in recent months”.
Because for Manuel Arandel, the account is not there: “we are going to have, roughly, 1,000 euros in monthly aid to buy food for our animals, while the increases continue, and that we will have in parallel nearly 2,000 euros in additional charges every month”.
The same goes for the Isère transporter Christophe Ogier, head of the company SOS Transport, who was also already present in front of the Total refinery on March 21. He mentions a quantified impact at “nearly 2,000 euros of additional charges per truck”, just on fuel costs, an amount that he would even bring in 5,000 euros when he supports “all cost items (tyres, etc.)”.
“We cannot pass on these increases to our customers, our companies are being taken by the throat. This is why nWe are now asking for a price freeze for professionals, so that we fall back to a price of 1 euro for fuel and 50 cents for GNR”.
A movement close to the Yellow Vests?
It should be noted that the activity of the Total refinery is currently in reduced mode, since its site was placed partially at a standstill as of March 23, due to a renovation project of 63 million euros. The resumption of full operations is not expected before May 26.
However, this movement could be closely scrutinized by the executive, just a few days before the April 10 election.
With the specter of the Yellow Vests movement, nborn in November 2018 on funds of social demands concerning at the time the increase in fuel taxes, which still remains in people’s minds. However, it is now a more global inflation, fueled by the rise in fuel costs, which crystallizes this time in the first place the dissatisfaction of professionals.
Still, for Manuel Arandel, the genesis of the movement would be the same:
“We talked about it within the collective and we feel close to the demands of the Yellow Vests when their movement started, namely the rise in diesel prices and the cost of living”.
For Michael Ogier, “it is above all the question of purchasing power that unites the members of this group. We are really issuing an alert, both for professionals who are in danger of filing for bankruptcy after having eaten up all their cash and the savings of several years, but also for private individuals, who can no longer fill their shopping carts because the prices of raw materials have soared and continue to do so”.
Its representatives expect strong measures from the State to limit speculation surrounding fuel prices, under penalty of coming to the center of the table an explosive subjectin the home stretch before the presidential elections.