Strike blocking French ports grows
A growing strike blocked French Mediterranean ports Friday, as more dockers joined oil terminal workers whose action against port privatisation entered its 12th day.
Dockers at the ports of Marseille, France's biggest, and nearby Fos-sur-Mer began a stoppage on Friday morning, a day ahead of the start of a weekend nationwide port strike called by the CGT, France's biggest union.
The stoppage at the oil terminals was launched on September 27 against plans to privatise the Fos-sur-Mer and Lavera terminals, part of a port reform scheme.
Unions have been demanding commitments on job protection and special allowances for physically demanding work, as well as backing a broader protest against the government's plan to raise the retirement age.
"The question of hard jobs must be handled and the reduction in life expectancy which goes with our job must be compensated," said the union leader for the Fos-sur-Mer dockers, Stephane Stamatiou.
The closure has forced rationing of diesel fuel in some French Mediterranean ports. Motorists on Friday swamped fuel stations on the island of Corsica when they received their first diesel deliveries after days of shortages.
Dozens of tankers have been stuck waiting in the waters off Marseille, according to port authorities.
The national strike on Saturday and Sunday could disrupt other major ports such as Le Havre in the northwest. The dockers' strike at the two ports in the Marseille area was set for Friday and Sunday.
The CGT has also urged port workers to join a strike from Tuesday called by unions in various sectors against the pensions reform, an open-ended action which is renewable daily and could cause days of disruption in France.
The dockers' action on Friday was their second weekend strike in a row and followed another brief walkout by some dockers on Wednesday.
© 2010 AFP