Thursday, 19 March 2009

French ports hit by national strike

ACTIVITY at leading French ports has been heavily disrupted today as hundreds of thousands of people responded to a call from France’s leading trade unions to stage a one-day general strike to protest over the government’s handling of the economic crisis.

Cargo-handling was brought to a complete standstill at the country’s two leading ports, Marseilles and Le Havre, as dockers and port personnel observed the 24-hour stoppage, while, at Marseilles, tug crews also stopped work during the morning.

Passenger traffic was not blocked by port workers but Marseilles ferry operator SNCM said it had been obliged to cancel sailings to and from Corsica as seafarers took part in the strike.

The northern French port of Dunkirk said that its eastern docks had been immobilised by strike action but that the western docks, where ferry and container services are based, was operating normally.

An officers’ union representative said that the situation at SeaFrance was particular, given that company personnel were expecting the imminent announcement of large-scale redundancies.

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