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Monday, April 25, 2011

Recurring French port strikes could end after agreement on retirement age

A national port reform agreement was signed last week that could signal then end of recurring work stoppages at French ports.

Plans by the government of France to transfer port workers to the private sector and increase the age of retirement met strong resistance from unions, who staged a series of strikes at French ports over the past two years.

A breakthrough on agreements involving government, unions and port authorities and covering all major French ports coincided last week with the signing of a national agreement on the linked issue of retirement age. It now appears that workers can start to be transferred to the private sector.

The port of Marseilles, for one, will begin the transfer of some 400 port authority personnel to private stevedoring companies in May.

The Marseilles authority said the agreements will bring French terminal operations in line with the practice at other major European ports.

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