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More strike trouble for French government

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More strike trouble for French government

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French ferry workers have extended a strike in protest at privatisation plans. The extension of the nearly three-week-old stoppage spells more trouble for the government which is already facing labour unrest over its economic reforms. Last-ditch talks between the administration and unions over the privatisation of the loss-making state-owned ferry operator SNCM have failed to reach an agreement.

The only positive news for the government is the unions’ suspension of the strike action that has blocked the port of Marseille. The government has pledged to keep a quarter of SNCM, with two thirds going to two private investors and the workforce getting nine per cent. The unions have insisted that the state should keep a majority stake, but after Monday’s talks they appeared to move closer to a compromise, saying the privatisation plans “deserved to be studied.” They are now proposing to hold negotiations over the next 15 days and will then submit the outcome of those talks to their members for a vote.