The French oil refiners' union warned Friday that a dock workers' strike in Marseille threatens to shut six refineries in southern France beginning this weekend.
The six refineries potentially forced to shut because of a lack of crude oil belong to Total SA, Lyondell et Basel, Esso, Ineos and Petroplus, said Union of French Petroleum Industries spokesman Yves Le Goff.
Together they represent about 40 percent of France's refining capacity, Le Goff said.
Le Goff said that if workers don't resume unloading the crude currently stored on 52 ships waiting at the port then "progressive stoppages can be expected by the end of the weekend or at the beginning of next week."
Workers at Marseille's two oil ports have been on strike for 12 days to protest a planned port reform and changes in France's retirement law currently being debated in parliament.
"The (retirement) reform is not fair, it penalizes the weak," said Michel Caizergues, a dock worker at Fos-sur-Mer outside Marseille. "The union does not disagree that we must reform. This reform must be changed. ... Our union is doing everything we can to make a gigantic protest."