French dockworkers and port employers Feb. 15 began negotiations aimed at resolving a dispute over pensions that has provoked rolling nationwide strikes since the beginning of the year.
The talks, between the CGT, the largest dockworker union, private port companies and the leading port authorities, are scheduled to last for three days.
The CGT, which suspended its six-week long strike campaign last week, has warned it will stage further stoppages from Friday, Feb. 18, if the negotiations do not make progress.
The union wants port employers to honor an agreement in principle they signed last October which would allow four years early retirement for up to 6,000 dockworkers with arduous jobs.
But the government, which raised the minimum national retirement age from 60 to 62 in November, says dockworkers can only retire two years early.
The government, which is the sole shareholder in the seven largest ports, including Marseille and Le Havre, has so far refused to budge, despite pleas from private stevedores that it intervene to bring a speedy end to the dispute.
French ports are estimated to have lost as much as 40 percent of their traffic since the beginning of the year following four successive four-day stoppages.
-- Contact Bruce Barnard at firstname.lastname@example.org.