Container Traffic Severely Disrupts French Ports

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February 10, 2011

PARIS (Dow Jones)–The flow of containers has been severely disrupted at most French sea ports as workers strike over a number of issues including pension arrangements and working conditions, the French ports’ federation, Union des Ports Francais, said Monday.

“Passenger traffic as well as bulk commodities such as coal and grains, oil and petrochemicals are not affected, apart from a few delays, but container traffic is seriously hit as different categories of workers strike on alternate days,” a UPF spokesman told Dow Jones Newswires.

“A meeting should be organized this week to resume negotiations,” the spokesman said.

Industrial action has completely or partly affected all French sea ports for several days over the last three weeks and has been paralyzing traffic during the weekends.

The worst hit ports are those where container traffic is heavy, including Le Havre, in the north, and Marseilles, in the south. The port of Dunkirk, in the north, is less disrupted.

Last Wednesday, the ports’ CGT labor union said strikes are set to continue as negotiations between unions and government over pension age and working conditions are stalled.

Port workers in France previously went on strike for several weeks in September and October. The Fos-Lavera oil terminal, the world’s third largest, was blocked for more than a month, contributing to a shortage of fuels across the country.

Angeline Benoit, Dow Jones

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