Talks launched to settle French docker's strike

29th March 2007, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, March 29, 2007 (AFP) - Talks began in this southern French port on Thursday to resolve a two-week docker's strike that threatens to cause fuel shortages in France next week.

MARSEILLE, France, March 29, 2007 (AFP) - Talks began in this southern French port on Thursday to resolve a two-week docker's strike that threatens to cause fuel shortages in France next week.

The regional government adminstrator or prefect, Christian Fremont, met leaders of the Marseille port authority, CGT trade union representatives, and Gilles Bavuz, head of terminal operations for the state-owned gas group Gaz de France.

The CGT launched the strike on March 14 to demand the recruitment of port workers at a new GDF gas terminal at Fos-sur-Mer. GDF argues that for safety reasons it will employ only its own staff.

The action has depressed activity in roughly half of France's 13 refineries.

France is in the midst of campaigning for the first round of a presidential election on April 22.

Fifty seven ships, including 33 oil tankers, 18 chemical carriers and six liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships are lying at anchor offshore near the terminal.

"The lack of supplies means that some refineries are going to start eating into reserves from this week and slowing down production. The first problems for private consumers could appear at the start of April," Jean-Francois Cousinie of the French Union of Petroleum Industries said Wednesday.

An association of small and medium-sized businesses appealed to governing authorities "to take vigorous" action to end the stoppage, warning that its economic effects could have a negative impact on the nation as a whole.

"The French economy must not again be held hostage to a labour dispute that could paralyse fuel supplies," the associaiton, the CGPME, stressed in a statement.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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