The French government announced a series of measures to help the defense industry, along with a new contract that will give jobs to 600 people in the hard-hit Brest naval dockyards, Agence France-Presse reported.
Fears of job losses at major naval dockyards and associated industries have roused escalating social unrest in the Atlantic port city, and protesting workers recently ransacked the mayor's office there.The new measures will provide retraining funds for people losing their jobs because of cuts in the defense budget, and payments of 65 percent of salary for 10 months to give time for people to find new work.
There will be payments to encourage people to find work outside the area, and extra help for workers over 54, as well as money to encourage non-naval companies to hire new staff.
The aid, backdated to April 1, covers all industrial operations dependent on Defense Ministry contracts for their survival, and particularly the naval dockyards at Brest, Michel Morin, prefect of Brest, told a news conference there.
The Defense Ministry in Paris, meanwhile, announced that the Direction des Constructions Navales in Brest has been awarded a contract to build an oil platform in a 500 million franc ($85.1 million) contract that will provide work for 600 people over 18 months.
''This major diversification marks an important step in an overall effort to compensate for a reduction in planned military spending,'' the ministry said in a statement.
The government's 1998 budget cuts defense spending by 8.9 billion francs, or about 10 percent of the 85 billion franc 1997 budget.