FRANCE’S trade unions are calling for a nationwide port strike on June 23 and June 28 as part of ongoing strikes and protests against the government’s labour reform bill, the unions said in a joint statement on Wednesday.
Port workers have been taking part in rolling nationwide strikes in recent weeks, notably disrupting activity at the oil terminal in Le Havre, northern France, which handles about 40 percent of French crude imports.
Meanwhile, a union official said on Wednesday that CGT union workers have extended a strike at the Fos-Lavera oil terminal in the southern port of Marseille until Friday June 17. The strike, now in its fourth week, has delayed the loading and unloading of about seventy oil, LNG and chemical tankers at the port, a CGT union official in Marseille, Pascal Galeote, said.
‘Workers will meet again tomorrow to decide whether to continue the strike,’ he said on Wednesday. Tuesday saw the latest day of nationwide demonstrations against the labour reform, including protests in Paris marked by violent clashes between police and youths.
A CGT, FO, FSU, Solidaires, UNEF, FIDL, UNL trade unions statement on Wednesday said: ‘Massive, dynamic, combative, protest, national unity demonstration yesterday in Paris and the provinces is a great achievement.
‘It illustrates the unwavering determination of employeees, self-employed, youth and pensioners to win the withdrawal of the Labour Bill and to obtain new rights. The organisations denounce once again the violence that marred the outskirts of the event. Union stewards played their role in ensuring the smooth running of the union procession.
‘The organisations urge the government to ensure the right conditions for exercising the right to demonstrate. It is its responsibility to ensure security and the maintenance of order. The prime minister likens the protesters to those he described as thugs and rejects his own responsibility, putting it on the unions by imputing the social climate deteriorates.
‘He wants to ban demonstrations! As if by muzzling dissent, he solved the problem!
‘It is unacceptable! The government refuses to listen! It seeks to divert public opinion from the heart of the matter raised by the bill.
‘Organisations for their part remain focused on: the reversal of the hierarchy of norms, agreements for development and maintenance of employment, redundancy terms, corporate referendum, occupational medicine. All elements in the bill in the state are unfavourable to employees.
‘How can he continue to despise millions of employees, youth and pensioners? How can he refuse dialogue demanded by the organisations for months? The President of the Republic is silent after the letter of the trade unions on 20 May. Will he remain unmoved by the thousands of referendums that will be handed to him by the organisations on June 28?
‘Already tens of thousands of signatures calling for the withdrawal of the bill have been collected. The organisations call on employees, the self-employed, youth, and retired workers to vote massively. For three months multiple petitions, demonstrations, strikes, workplace occupations … the rejection of the bill is real and remains deeply rooted even in public opinion.
‘The organisations call for further industrial action in the forms locally and decided to massively participate in the national mobilisation days on 23 and 28 June next:
• On 23 June, during the consideration in the Senate, strikes, lobbying parliamentarians, rallies, demonstrations, press conferences;
• June 28, date of the vote of the Senate to put the citizen referendum with prefectures and the Presidency of the Republic for the Paris region and organising strikes and demonstrations.’
Also on Wednesday, the CGT, the CGT Federation of public services and the Departmental Union of the Loire issued the following joint statement: ‘Tuesday, June 14, 2016, a militant from Saint-Etienne CGT union was arrested during the demonstration in Paris for the withdrawal Labour Bill. Our comrade was placed in custody pending decisions from prosecutors that could lead to an immediate trial.
‘We do not know at this stage the nature of the charges against him.
‘The CGT, the Federation of Public Services Union and its Departmental Union of the Loire condemn the violence committed on June 14 on the sidelines of the event. Our comrade should not pay the cost of a situation marked by the government’s attacks against the social movement and the CGT in particular.
‘The rules of law and the presumption of innocence must be fully respected. The CGT, the Federation of Public Services and the Departmental Union of the Loire will not accept that such is being applied to our comrade.
‘Government attacks to which we are subject, whatever the form, only reinforce our determination to develop the mobilisation of the world of work against the draft Labour Law and Labour Code for the 21st century.’
• Both international and domestic flights in Greece will be disrupted next week after the union representing Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority staff called a five-day walkout, starting on June 20.
Meanwhile, employees of the Hellenic Railways Organisation (OSE) are stepping up their protest action against austerity. The action being called by OSYPA, the civil aviation staff union, is to protest against the long-term lease of 14 regional airports.
The government agreed to lease the airports to German operator Fraport last year and is now considering offering concessions for another 23 regional airports.
Meanwhile, OSE workers are to continue with rolling work stoppages that are to culminate in a 24-hour strike on June 22. Employees are protesting against plans to privatise OSE’s operating arm, Trainose, and the government’s broader austerity programme.
The action will affect the metro connection to Athens International Airport as Doukissis Plakentias station will be closed during walkout hours. Railway services were suspended from 5am to 8am, from 1pm to 4 pm and from 9pm until midnight on Wednesday and Thursday, and will be next Tuesday.
Also on Wednesday, there was no service on the Athens metro, tram and the ISAP electric railway from 9pm until the end of scheduled services. Public transport staff have been holding regular strikes too in protest at the government’s privatisation programme, as are workers of the ports of Piraeus and Thessaloniki, which are also in the government’s portfolio of sell-offs dictated by the ECB-EC-IMF troika.