The French port of Bordeaux, despite 82 days of rotating strikes by dockworkers, registered a 5.6 percent increase in cargo volume last year compared with 1991, the port authority announced.
With 9.3 million tons of cargo going through the port, including a record 2.31 million tons of grain, the Autonomous Port of Bordeaux annual results put itself on par with La Rochelle and just after Rouen in terms of grain exports. The port claims first place in Europe for corn volume.But James Trijean, a port spokesman, said Bordeaux estimates it lost 200,000 tons of grain and general merchandise, including container traffic, to other ports during the labor disruptions. Wood volume dropped 40 percent.
Dockers and stevedore employers in Bordeaux signed an agreement last October that put an end to the strikes and brought the port in line with government reforms that made most dockers full-time, salaried employees.
The Bordeaux stevedore accord called for the number of dockers to be reduced by about 180, leaving 65 salaried employees and 34 part-time workers. The total cost of early retirement and job retraining came to just over $20.5 million (112 million francs) with the French government paying $6.9 million (37.7 million francs) and the rest paid for through contributions from local government, the port and stevedoring companies.
The volume of fuel passing through Bordeaux, almost 50 percent of the port's traffic, remained stable last year at 4.75 million. Fertilizer volume was 443,000 tons, mostly imported. Stevedore employers have announced rate reductions to clients of 15 percent to 20 percent during the next three years. The first reductions will come into effect in June.