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cvabishop

St Malo Dockers’ Strike

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It's this sort of thing that has really put us off excursions to France. It just seems to be a bit of a lottery as to whether your sailing will take place. At least at Dover if the ferries are blockaded by fishing boats at Calais you might be able to switch to the tunnel. But then of course you might be faced with farmers blocking the roads with burning tyres.

France is a lovely country but the populace couldn't care less if tourists bringing income are knocked sideways in their travel arrangements.

We have recently returned from Egypt where we enjoyed a Nile cruise and three days at Cairo visiting the Pyramids and Saqqara. Everything went like clockwork and we were told on several occasions by local staff how much they appreciated us being there and we were urged to encourage other Brits to visit. The locals really do appreciate the need to encourage visitors and despite the disparity in our respective living standards we did feel we were welcome. Our visits to Greece have been very similar with an invariably friendly reception despite their economic problems. We no longer feel that way when we visit France.

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22 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

It's this sort of thing that has really put us off excursions to France. It just seems to be a bit of a lottery as to whether your sailing will take place. At least at Dover if the ferries are blockaded by fishing boats at Calais you might be able to switch to the tunnel. But then of course you might be faced with farmers blocking the roads with burning tyres.

Disruption like this is on the whole infrequent on the Western Channel and in this case there is the opportunity for passengers to transfer over to tonight's Caen or Le Havre sailing.

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Not as infrequent as I would like. In recent years this would have caught us out unpleasantly as we used to do 24 hr trips around now,.

We have no wish whatsoever to change to Caen or Le Havre and having to get up at stupid o'clock. Been there, done that. It's supposed to be a pleasure trip. I'd rather go someplace where the natives are more welcoming.

That is the customer viewpoint. Not BF's fault but indicative of French attitudes unfortunately.

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I was due to travel on the Bretagne this evening. I haven't travelled on BF recently and haven't paid much attention of late to strikes in the channel ports, do the St Malo dockers strike often? I don't want to re-book if this is likely to happen again.  Less than six hours notice of a strike is very short and I am sure this has affected hundreds of people today, many of whom will have already been on their way to Portsmouth.

Edited by mpwheatley
Removed unnecessary info after post merged into this topic

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As annoyed as I was at the time I am now 3 parts of a way through a bottle of Malbec and it all seems not worth getting stressed about. We have decided to stay up here for the night and have a day out somewhere tomorrow so it is what it is.

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@cvabishop You have to remember Egypt has next to no employment law so in reality employees are in fear of loosing their jobs on a daily basis some might say the polar opposite of the situation in France , but personally I’ve always found the French friendly and helpful.

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French unions always appear to act only in their own perceived best interests. OK, so that's up to them but it puts me off visiting their country if it means I am likely to be stranded somewhere. I can, and do, holiday elsewhere..

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17 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

French, and the British, unions are quite happy to inflict their disputes on helpless travellers so I am not very sympathetic to their cause.

But if they feel they are being unfairly treated I'm not sure what the alternative is. Would you really feel happy knowing that those who were providing you with your holidays were possibly being exploited with no means of protesting? I suppose you could argue that they should just give up their jobs but that isn't always a viable option.

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To the best of my knowledge, French unions need to give 5 days' notice of any strike action, whether it be for just one day or an ongoing protest. In this case, clearly they have not done so which to me suggests there has been a downing of tools due to some work-related accident which would justify them stopping. The CHSCT (HSE-equivalent in France) would probably support such a decision. I can find nothing on the local French press websites to explain the decision. The other possibility is that their annual negotiations have broken down and the union leaders have decided to blackmail their bosses to get concessions. Either way, Condor were lucky to have Rapide off the berth when the strike was called as she is still standing in for Liberation and would otherwise have been caught up in the strike action. Ed

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10 hours ago, cvabishop said:

French, and tbh British, unions are quite happy to inflict their disputes on helpless travellers so I am not very sympathetic to their cause.

The alternative? Go some where wher workers have no rights and are basically told what to do or leave and of course there’s no welfare state back up in Egypt.

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1 hour ago, Cabin-boy said:

To the best of my knowledge, French unions need to give 5 days' notice of any strike action, whether it be for just one day or an ongoing protest. In this case, clearly they have not done so which to me suggests there has been a downing of tools due to some work-related accident which would justify them stopping. The CHSCT (HSE-equivalent in France) would probably support such a decision. I can find nothing on the local French press websites to explain the decision. The other possibility is that their annual negotiations have broken down and the union leaders have decided to blackmail their bosses to get concessions. Either way, Condor were lucky to have Rapide off the berth when the strike was called as she is still standing in for Liberation and would otherwise have been caught up in the strike action. Ed

Ed, the CHSCT is not the equivalent of the HSE but a committee of made of employees and executives in each company employing more than 50 staff. Its purpose is to discuss health and safety and working conditions within the company. One of the compulsory members is a "Médecin du travail" ie a  GP for occupational health. 

 

There is no direct equivalent of the HSE in France. This role would be typically fulfilled by the Inspecteur du Travail and/or the prefect. 

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You are of course right that it's not the direct equivalent but it is as close as possible to get to the idea when covering daily health and safety issues within the company. The Swedish, US and French companies I work with here often need to send reports to their other sites around the world when issues arrise and always use HSE as the best compromise solution. If things escalate then, yes the Inspecteur du Travail does get involved, but when it's just ergonomic problems or minor accidents on the production line then the unions and in-house doctor are the first to decide on a plan of action. Ed

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I didn't realise that there was a 5-day-notice requirement in France - I had always assumed that these no-notice walkouts were lawful.  Pleased to hear that they are not.

So what are the potential consequences of breaching this requirement (as seems to happen so often)?

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As is usually the case on this Forum any attempt to criticise the inalienable right of French workers to cause chaos and mayhem to the public at large is met with knee jerk cries of indignation and  an unquestioning assumption that the workers are in the right. Still, never mind.

My point about Egypt had nothing whatsover to do with worker's rights. The majority of the population are desperately poor, public services virtually non existent, government oppressive and H&S is a nightmare. But the people are genuinely glad you have come to their country, they want to see conditions improve and welcome you as a means to improving things. Obviously they want your money, particularly the stall holders around the ancient sites, but there is a genuine welcome as well. The guides are well educated and acutely concious of living in in a third world country and know that things could be so much better. They hope for a better future and recognise that the return of tourism is a major factor in achieving that. Obviously you can feel uncomfortable knowing that you have so much and they have so little but we can't individually put the world to rights. Although we booked with a UK travel operator, all the services were locally sourced so hopefully we will have done a bit of good somewhere along the way.

I often don't feel all that welcome in France, the populace appear to be generally indifferent and sometimes mildly hostile as it you are a bit of a nuisance but again they want your money. Obviously there are exceptions but service levels can be very hit and miss. We visited Benodet earlier in the year with BF and ate in two restaurants. One was friendly and family orientated while the other was overpriced and the waiting staff gave priority to locals who had come in after us. The hotel was helpful though.

 

 

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25 minutes ago, Gareth said:

I didn't realise that there was a 5-day-notice requirement in France - I had always assumed that these no-notice walkouts were lawful.  Pleased to hear that they are not.

So what are the potential consequences of breaching this requirement (as seems to happen so often)?

That's when it's a union-called strike in a specific sector of the economy or at national level with the aim of giving people advance notice and allowing them to make alternative arrangements. In practice we seem to get around 48-hours notice from, for example, the train operator as the unions are I believe only obliged to inform the employer and not the public or news outlets. If however emloyees from a private firm wish to strike they can do so very swiftly with just the approval of their union bosses within the company. This may mean that only a minority of the personel wish to stop work but is sufficient to paralyse the business or make it unsafe for the rest to continue working. They might also 'sabotage' (for want of a better word) certain equipment or physically blockade the site which I suspect is what has happened here. As there is nothing in the press about a serious accident in the port, and no wider strike action affecting the other ports in Normandy, then the negotiation-idea seems more likely. 

Condor has now offered to take anybody booked to France over to Poole free of charge this evening to allow them to find an alternative route to France at their own cost. Barfleur may well be pretty busy tomorrow morning. Ed. 

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This report recently appeared on the local news website. It confirms that the strike is due to wage and working-condition negotiations between the sockets and their management.

https://saint-malo.maville.com/actu/actudet_-une-greve-des-dockers-paralyse-le-port-de-saint-malo_loc-3333360_actu.Htm

It's a real shame that things should escalate to such a degree as St Malo would also have benefited from visits by islanders this weekend. At least it means Timothy may be selling his cakes off cheap tomorrow. 9_9 Ed. 

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7 hours ago, Gareth said:

I didn't realise that there was a 5-day-notice requirement in France - I had always assumed that these no-notice walkouts were lawful.  Pleased to hear that they are not.

So what are the potential consequences of breaching this requirement (as seems to happen so often)?

I think it’s a simplification of the extremely complicated employment laws in France to say a 5 day notice period is required, I would suspect anyone apart from a French employment lawyer will understand them, @cvabishop I must be lucky we’ve ate out loads and stayed at hotels and campsites and have never been made unwelcome this year we were the only nonfrench folk at the campsite in Lesconil where we stayed and we were made to feel extremely welcome, there are certain countries due to their employment or human rights laws that I won’t visit but that’s just my point of view .

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there are certain countries due to their employment or human rights laws that I won’t visit but that’s just my point of view .

I have a lot of sympathy for that attitude, it puts me off as well. The USA for example! Turkey is another instance as is of course Egypt which we recently visited. I think the fundamental thing is whether your visit is benefiting the local populace who are simply striving to make a living in difficult circumstances.

Politics, particularly in the Middle East can be horribly complex. The current regime in Egypt is in many ways oppressive but they are fighting a deadly battle against the jihadists who are even worse. During our visit it was clear that the population at large see the jihadists as an existential threat to them so they will support the military government despite its trampling over human rights and heavy handed approach which results in innocent casualties. Who are we to condemn them for that? It is all very difficult.

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29 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

I think it’s a simplification of the extremely complicated employment laws in France to say a 5 day notice period is required, I would suspect anyone apart from a French employment lawyer will understand them, @cvabishop I must be lucky we’ve ate out loads and stayed at hotels and campsites and have never been made unwelcome this year we were the only nonfrench folk at the campsite in Lesconil where we stayed and we were made to feel extremely welcome, there are certain countries due to their employment or human rights laws that I won’t visit but that’s just my point of view .

I didn't make it up, Neil. It's all in here:

https://www.google.fr/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F499&ved=0ahUKEwi01o_VmezXAhXO-aQKHertD5EQFggnMAE&usg=AOvVaw0sLGPeaEoaOVugZTreBxCM

But, as I've pointed out, this weekend's  strike does not come under these rules due to its limited and localised nature. It's a calculated move to cause the maximum disruption, inconvenience the largest number of travellers and force the management into concessions so as not to prolong the disruption and subsequent loss of revenue. 

Oh, and your views regarding the competence of French employment lawyers are a little harsh! :| Ed. 

Edited by Cabin-boy

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4 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

That was a typo about the lawyers @Cabin-boy , are there not regional employment laws too?

Just as well:$ Libeling every employment lawyer in France could make next summer's holiday a more interesting experience. Although they will all be on the beach in St Tropez so as long as you steer clear of that ressort you won't need to be constantly checking over your shoulder. 

I'm not aware of specific regional laws but the rules which apply in this weekend's case are explained here (particularly clarifying that there is no need to give any form of notice)  :

https://www.google.fr/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.service-public.fr/particuliers/vosdroits/F117&ved=0ahUKEwi01o_VmezXAhXO-aQKHertD5EQFghPMAk&usg=AOvVaw09vybYgW28EYQ6rsPapgRy

Ed. 

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Bretagne is still sitting in Pompey anyway..guess she's not off tonight either? 

Edit. Just realised she was supposed to be on overnight from France not daytime..

Edited by Tumnus2010
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