A nearly weeklong strike by French refinery workers that had threatened the country with a gas shortage neared an end Wednesday after one of the largest unions recommended workers suspend their walkout.
France's industry minister said he was "satisfied" with the CGT union's call to end the strike that had shuttered all six of oil giant Total SA's French refineries.
Total's refinery workers were voting Wednesday to formally end the strike. By mid afternoon, workers at two refineries already had called off their walkout.
Workers at three other Total refineries were also expected to vote to return to work, but employees at Total's Dunkirk refinery, which has been shut since September, were expected to continue the strike there.
The walkout had been sparked last week by concerns about Total's plan to convert the Dunkirk refinery in northern France for other uses, as well as about as the future of refining in general. The oil company pledged Tuesday to neither close nor sell other plants in France for the next five years.
"I'm satisfied with the CGT's announcement yesterday evening," Industry Minister Christian Estrosi said on radio station RTL.
"I believe that all the conditions have now been met" for the strike to end following talks between workers and Total management on Tuesday, Estrosi said.
Total's refineries are losing euro100 million ($135 million) a month, spokesman Michael Crochet-Vourey said.
Total shares have so far been little affected by the strikes, however. Shares were down 0.1 percent at euro41.96 at midday Wednesday.
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