Oil multinational Total announced that it is to close a refinery employing 370 people in Dunkirk with immediate effect. All of the site's permanent employees have been promised new employment within the group under plans to launch new operations there (an operational support centre, a refining training centre and a logistics depot).
Unions are fiercely critical of the restructuring as the new project in Dunkirk will only employ 240 people. 200 to 300 demonstrators reacted to the announcement of the refinery's closure by smashing windows at Total's Paris headquarters and clashing with riot police.
A company statement said: "The collapse in petroleum product demand in France, Europe and the United States has compelled Total to adjust its refining capacity, in particular in northern France." The Dunkirk refinery lost more than €130 million in 2009 and production had been suspended since 2009.