French energy giant reveals strike-related losses

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According to Reuters, French utility Electricite de France (EDF) has warned of a significant financial damage from recent industrial action at its nuclear reactors and hydroelectric power facilities, alleging strikes cost the business €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in missed productivity.

According to a report published by the news agency on Friday, EDF is also reconsidering its staffing plans for the coming year.

Two of the sources, both of whom are purportedly union members, stated that they were briefed by EDF officials in separate talks last week and were instructed that EDF management had ordered all departments to determine whose hires may be postponed until next year.

An EDF official reportedly informed Reuters that a hiring freeze had been implemented, without explaining why.

According to one of the individuals, the corporation, which is 96% owned by the government and is in the process of being entirely nationalised, had intended to hire between 3,000 and 3,500 people in 2023, primarily in nuclear production and sales.

Workers at EDF have walked out as part of a statewide strike to protest the government’s contentious plan to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. Despite countrywide protests and union threats to grind France to a halt, President Emmanuel Macron has decided to push ahead with the reform.

Meanwhile, EDF’s reported losses come after a difficult 2022. The corporation had an unprecedented number of reactor outages, as well as the cap imposed by France to assist businesses and people in dealing with rising energy prices. EDF has recorded a record single-year loss of €17.9 billion (about $19.7 billion) for 2022, increasing the power company’s total indebtedness to €64.5 billion ($71.2 billion).

Because of the large drop in electricity generation, EDF was forced to purchase energy from neighbouring EU nations to make up for the shortfall on the French market, while electricity prices reached all-time highs.

In 2022, the corporation spent €121 billion ($133 billion) on fuel and energy imports alone, which was three times the amount spent in 2021. For the first time in more than four decades, France became a net importer of electricity last year.