French power output down 10% as a third of workforce strikes

French power output down 10% as a third of workforce strikes

A third of EDF’s workforce in France was on strike on Thursday in protest against a restructuring plan, the state-controlled utility said, sending French power generation down by more than 10%.

EDF said that about 20,000 workers in France had joined the industrial action at midday, in one of the biggest strike turnouts at the company in eight years.

The strike has reduced power generation by some 6 gigawatts, affecting output in several nuclear, hydro and gas-fired power plants. The strike is due to end on Thursday evening.

Power station outages will not knock out the grid or hit households, though cuts in power output are costly for EDF, as it has to import any shortfall from overseas.

After the strike started on Wednesday night, there was a loss of power generation of over 8%, and by Thursday midday it had fallen another two percentage points, according to data from EDF and grid operator RTE.

EDF workers are protesting against plans steered by the French government to restructure and potentially split the heavily-indebted group, with its nuclear power generation business set to one side.

The strike was more disruptive than previous stoppages, with four unions representing a majority of France’s energy workers joining forces behind the walkout this time. Previously, the unions have not acted together.