French energy giant reveals strike-related losses

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The nationwide labor action against pension reform has reportedly cost Electricite de France €1 billion in lost output

French utility Electricite de France (EDF) has warned of a big financial hit from recent industrial action at its nuclear reactors and hydro-electricity plants, claiming strikes had cost the company €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in lost output, sources have told Reuters.

According to the news agency’s report on Friday, EDF is also reviewing hiring plans for the year.

Two of the sources, reportedly union members, revealed they had been briefed by EDF executives in separate conversations last week and informed that EDF management had asked all divisions to see which hires could be postponed until next year.

An EDF spokesperson reportedly told Reuters that a moratorium had been imposed on hirings, without elaborating on the reason.

The company, which is 96% owned by the government and is in the process of being fully nationalized, originally planned to hire between 3,000 and 3,500 people in 2023, mostly in nuclear production and sales, one of the sources noted.

Workers’ walkouts at EDF have been part of the nationwide labor action to protest against the unpopular government plan to increase the retirement age from 62 to 64. President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to go ahead with the reform despite nationwide protests and union threats to bring France to a standstill.

Meanwhile, EDF’s reported losses follow a tough 2022. The company suffered from an unprecedented number of outages at its reactors, as well as the cap introduced by France to help businesses and households tackle soaring energy prices. EDF has reported a record single-year loss of €17.9 billion (around $19.7 billion) for 2022, pushing the power giant’s overall debts to €64.5 billion ($71.2 billion).

Due to the significant decline in electricity output, EDF was forced to buy energy from neighboring EU states to make up for the shortfall on the French market, while electricity prices reached record highs.

In 2022, the company spent €121 billion ($133 billion) on purchases of fuel and energy alone, three times the amount from 2021. Last year, France became a net importer of electricity for the first time in more than four decades.

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