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Dockers strike over privatisation

One-day CGT strike at Le Havre not expected to spread to other ports.

UNIONISTS at the port of Le Havre downed tools in protest at privatisation plans.

The strike stopped work on freight containers, which is the port’s main activity. However security, dock work relating to oil, and ferry services continued as usual.

A spokeswoman for the Grand Port Maritime du Havre (GPMH) said work was now back to normal.

The CGT’s ports and docks section said the strike at Le Havre was a one-off organised by the local branch. No other action is planned at present, a spokeswoman said.

The protest coincided with the first meeting of the new Development Council, part of a new organisational structure for the port.

Under new rules, thrashed out last year, the port will transfer 500 of 1,500 workers currently employed by the state to the private sector from 2011.

The move mainly concerns container crane drivers and maintenance mechanics.

“The decision to strike on the day the new council was presenting its strategic plan for the port was symbolic. Unions are still not happy in principle with the idea of privatisation, which is a political choice of the government,” said the GPMH spokeswoman.

In 2008 national action by the CGT union in protests at government port reform plans disrupted passenger services across the Channel.

However an agreement was reached in October, including the right for workers transferred to the private sector to be reemployed by the port authority for a period of three years on their own request, or for 14 years if they are made redundant.

Photo:*_* / Guilhem Vellut

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