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New strikes planned in French ports

French dockers and other port workers are to stage fresh strike action despite a warning from port employers that successive strikes since early December have already severely affected port revenues.

The leading French port workers’ union has called on its members to stage a 24-hour strike at French ports on Thursday (6 February) as part of an ongoing national campaign by its parent confederation against the French government’s national pension reform plans.

It has also urged members to take part in local demonstrations with other unions tomorrow (5 February) and to maintain a ban on all overtime and exceptional shift working.

The ports and docks federation of the Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT) union has decided to proceed with further strike action despite pleas from port employers to call off their action.

The Union Maritime et Portuaire de France (UMPF), which represents French private sector port operators, estimates that that the industrial action has already cost the ports (€500) US$552.56 million in lost revenue since industrial action began, with the country’s two leading container ports, Le Havre and Marseilles, worst affected.

The UMPF said that leading French container port Le Havre had lost traffic totalling 200,000 TEU since the strikes began, with 227 port calls either delayed or cancelled at ports belonging to the River Seine port grouping Haropa (Le Havre, Rouen and Paris).

The port of Marseilles lost more than (€100) US$110.5 million in December alone, according to the UMPF, as container ship port calls fell 26%.

The French government’s pension reform is currently being debated by the National Assembly. It aims to introduce a “universal” scheme to replace the existing piecemeal system, bring pensions more closely into line with contributions and improve pensions for the least well-off.

But the CGT and other opponents of the reform argue that it will lead to an increase in the retirement age and lower pensions.

Andrew Spurrier
European Correspondent

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