France’s biggest longshoremen’s union is calling for two 24-hour strikes in January in the latest revolt against privatization of container terminals at seven of the country’s biggest ports.
The CGT union said its members will walk out on Jan. 4 and Jan. 11 to protest the government’s failure to honor a pledge to create thousands of new jobs on the waterfront as part of a wider reform program at publicly owned ports.
Dockworkers, who already are refusing to work overtime and at night, will escalate industrial action if the government does not respond to their grievances, the union warned.
The planned strikes, which will disrupt shipping at Le Havre and Marseilles, France’s two biggest ports, follow a 24-hour nationwide strike on Nov. 6.
The government pledged to create 30,000 new jobs when it unveiled plans in 2008 to transfer container terminal operations from port authorities to private stevedores.
Dockworkers staged three months of rolling strikes in 2008 but called off their action after Parliament approved the reforms.
The CGT accuses the government of spending billions of dollars bailing out banks and subsidizing automobile sales but refusing to spend a relatively small amount creating new port jobs.
The government says the reforms, which will transfer some 2,000 crane operators and maintenance workers to private operators, will help boost French ports’ competitiveness and boost annual container traffic to 10 million TEUs in 2015 from 3.6 million in 2007.
The five other publicly owned ports affected are Dunkirk, Rouen, Nantes-Saint Nazaire, Bordeaux and La Rochelle.