Marches across France demand job security

Tens of thousands of people staged a protest march Tuesday in Paris to demand job security as a strike on the same issue paralysed the country's second largest port of Le Havre.

Marches across France demand job security
Photo: David Monniaux

The influential CGT union, which called the marches in Paris and seven other cities, declared that the day was a success.

CGT boss Bernard Thibault said: "We are not naive, the employers are on the offensive. There is pressure on the government to get measures that are favourable for employers and in this situation wage earners cannot remain on the sidelines."

Thibault said "tens of thousands" were on the streets following the union's call.

The port at Le Havre ground to a halt as all 2,400 dock workers went on strike.

Union sources said a majority of the estimated 1,200 shipping agents also stopped work at the country's second terminal container port after Marseille but said passenger services to Britain were unaffected.

The protests come at a time of mounting economic gloom.

The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday slashed its global growth forecast and said France would record only 0.1% GDP growth in 2012, against 0.3% forecast in July.

It said the projected figure for next year was 0.4% — or half of that forecast earlier.

French unions fear that the Socialist government's efforts to plug a €37 billion ($48 billion) hole in public finances will lead to more job cuts.

French unemployment recently breached the three-million mark and crossed 10%.

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French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.