French Port Talks Go Into Fourth Day

French Port Talks Go Into Fourth Day

Talks between dockworkers and port employers to resolve a dispute over early retirement entered a fourth day Feb. 18 as both sides seek to avert fresh nationwide strikes.

The CGT union initially set a Thursday deadline for agreement coupled with a threat of further strike action if employers and port authorities showed "a lack of responsibility" in the negotiations.

Talks broke off just before midnight on Thursday without agreement but the CGT, the largest dockworker union, agreed to continue negotiations into a fourth day.

The CGT staged 24-hour nationwide stoppages by dockworkers in early January followed by four successive four-day strikes to press its demand that up to 6,000 dockworkers with arduous jobs should be allowed to retire four years early.

The government, which raised the national minimum retirement age from 60 to 62 in November, insists dockworkers are only entitled to two years early retirement.

The Secretary of State for Transport Thierry Mariani expressed hopes that an accord will be reached to avoid further strikes.

But Mariani stuck to the government's insistence on two years early retirement and disputed the CGT's claim that employers and port authorities agreed in principle in October to four years.

-- Contact Bruce Barnard at brucebarnard47@hotmail.com.