French unions have successfully forced domestic energy heavyweights Gaz de France and Suez to delay their plans to merge after winning court backing for a plea for more time to scrutinize the deal.

Gaz de France’s works council successfully petitioned a Paris court to force the postponement of an imminent GDF board meeting, effectively making it impossible for the utility to finalize its merger schedule. The council asked for more time to evaluate the ramifications of the merger.

GDF and Suez have responded in defiant fashion to the ruling, reiterating their intention to merge, adding that they would strive to achieve their goal in as little time as possible.

The controversial merger has already overcome historical legislative obstacles, after the French government agreed to change laws that stated its holding in GDF could not fall below 70%.

However, strong dissent remains from opposition MPs, unions and workers, who argue that the merger would result in price rises and job cuts.