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FARMING

Spain tells France to control its farmers

Spanish authorities urged France on Friday to take action against the increasing number of attacks on Spanish trucks by France's striking farmers.

Spain tells France to control its farmers
Farmers use tractors to block a motorway in France. Photo: AFP
Spain's Foreign Ministry released a statement on Friday calling for France to do something about its striking farmer community. 
 
Madrid “expressed deep concern about the serious series of events” that it said have been taking place since July 21st and are ongoing, reported Le Figaro.
 
In an earlier statement issued in late July, the Spanish government had called on France to respect the “right to the free movement of people and goods”.
 
Scores if not hundreds of farmers have been ransacking trucks coming from Spain in recent weeks, often threatening to unload any meat or fruit bound for the French market.
 
They have reportedly used tractors at times to block the motorway not far from the Spanish border, causing traffic jams can stretch for kilometres. Farmers have used similar tactics at the German border.
 
Why the French back their striking farmers

(A farmer passes by the a pile of manure during a protest. Photo: AFP)
 
The farmers have also blocked cities, roads, and tourist sites across France in protest at falling food prices, which they blame on foreign competition, as well as supermarkets and distributors.
 
Farmers have dumped manure in cities, blocked access roads and motorways and hindered tourists from reaching Mont St-Michel in northern France, one of the country's most visited sites.
 
Fearful of France's powerful agricultural lobby, the government unveiled an emergency package worth €600 million in tax relief and loan guarantees, but the aid has done little to stop the unrest.
 
A combination of factors, including changing dietary habits, slowing Chinese demand and a Russian embargo on Western products over Ukraine, has pushed down prices for staples like beef, pork and milk.
 
Paris has estimated that around 10 percent of farms in France – approximately 22,000 operations — are on the brink of bankruptcy with a combined debt of €1.0 billion.
 
While Madrid may be unimpressed, the French are largely behind the striking farmers. Some 86 percent of the French public said they support the protests of the farmers, a survey on Tuesday revealed.
 

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STRIKES

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.

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