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cvabishop

St Malo Dockers’ Strike

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44 minutes ago, westy said:

Does anyone know if this dispute has been settled, or is the further possibility of instant disruption?

No, not even the dockers know if it's been settled! :D

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Until the union leaders and management sign off on whatever has been agreed then unfortunately there is every risk of a repetition this childish, irresponsible and damaging type of action. I don't know if the dockers are employed directly by the port or if the work is outsourced but I do hope BF and Condor put pressure on the port authorities to avoid such events in the future as the number of people causing the problem is tiny relative to the financial damage and loss of confidence they have caused. Ed. 

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Hurting your regular customers via BF and Condor you enhance your standard of employment?  Strikes help no one long term.

 

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1 hour ago, neilcvx said:

@Cabin-boy it’s not childish to try to protect your standard of employment it’s sensible in my book.

Well there are two ways to approach the situation.

1) If the management has offered you the minimum wage increase stipulated by the industry rules (Convention Collective in France) and has not asked you to work more hours for less money or take risks with safety (in which case you could go to the employment tribunal with a valid case) then in that case you can not reasonably ask for more except by appealing to their generosity of spirit. If economic conditions allow them to offer a little more then that should be accepted graciously, and if not you should accept the realities of the market, industry and economy and either hope for a better year to come or get out there and find something better paid. This is what should happen in a civilised company where there is productive dialogue between all levels of the workforce, striving to maintain and boost the reputation of the business and not selfishly trying to wring as much out of the bosses in the knowledge that your protected union status means you'll be the last ones laid off if things turn bad.

2) As soon as things don't go your way, and knowing that you are legally allowed to protest for whatever spurious reason takes your fancy, you decide that to guarantee a little extra you will call a strike for the first weekend in December. The management will be forced to come in at the weekend to try and limit the damage caused, they will be obliged to negotiate without access to any support from the authorities as it's a weekend and you will end up getting concessions that they would otherwise not have given due to the pressing need to get the business going again. In the meantime you know that in France your employer is not legally allowed to replace you while you are refusing to work, you are certain to inconvenience a massive number of people across various sectors, ruin people's travel and holiday plans, cause innocent third parties financial hardship (in this case the Christmas markets and Sunday trading opportunities which would have been hoping for an influx of visitors in both St Malo and Jersey) and cause other people to be out of pocket all for perhaps €10 extra per week and 5 minutes longer to smoke your cigarette each day. You also know that because you work behind the scenes in the company you will never really need to have any contact with those people who ultimately pay your wages - the tourists, travellers and freight transporters - so you can act with impunity again safe in the knowledge that if the port's operations dry up your bosses will have to pay you off and you'll be in a position to negotiate the redundancy package you feel you deserve. Of course this does not worry you too much as you have union protection and anyway, who cares if the port declines (when the ferry companies then have to increase their ticket prices because the port raises landing charges to pay your extra wages and as a result the traffic moves to Cherbourg or Caen) because you will be able to retire in a few years, safe in the knowledge that you did what you could for the poor oppressed and exploited French worker. 

So which of those options is the most sensible, not for you individually, but for the continued health of the company you work for and represent?

Ed

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40 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

Well there are two ways to approach the situation.

1) If the management has offered you the minimum wage increase stipulated by the industry rules (Convention Collective in France) and has not asked you to work more hours for less money or take risks with safety (in which case you could go to the employment tribunal with a valid case) then in that case you can not reasonably ask for more except by appealing to their generosity of spirit. If economic conditions allow them to offer a little more then that should be accepted graciously, and if not you should accept the realities of the market, industry and economy and either hope for a better year to come or get out there and find something better paid.

 

But,  just supose for one moment that the company is doing very well. Maybe the management have decided to take all the profit from your endeavors for themselves. You know that their pay is decided by other board members.  Those board members who decide your bosses pay also run the other local companies and their pay is controlled by your current boss as he sits on their board. What do you do? You can't change employers because you may be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Do you tug your forelock and accept your lot or do you say enough is enough and take the only action available to you and strike?

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It’s the usual company line “you should be grateful to have a job so just take what you’re given” and if you protest we will blackmail with either a,b,c or d , the difference between maintaining the quality of your job or a sportsdirect quality of job, there’s always reasons for and against taking strike action and it does effect the quality of the service your employer provides but if you don’t strike or have the right to strike then you end up with American style job security.

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2 hours ago, Solo said:

Hurting your regular customers via BF and Condor you enhance your standard of employment?  Strikes help no one long term.

 

They help the employees not to be ripped off by unscrupulous employers.

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1 minute ago, cvabishop said:

Certainly there are two side to every dispute, I fully acknowledge that. But some on here only appear to be able to recognise one.

That’s very true there’s a lot of assumptions being jumped to, in my many years of being a shop steward its always been extremely complicated when employment negotiations are being discussed.

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5 minutes ago, cvabishop said:

Certainly there are two side to every dispute, I fully acknowledge that.

 

Well I'm sure we can all agree on that.:)

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53 minutes ago, G4rth said:

But,  just supose for one moment that the company is doing very well. Maybe the management have decided to take all the profit from your endeavors for themselves. You know that their pay is decided by other board members.  Those board members who decide your bosses pay also run the other local companies and their pay is controlled by your current boss as he sits on their board. What do you do? You can't change employers because you may be jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. Do you tug your forelock and accept your lot or do you say enough is enough and take the only action available to you and strike?

First you decide if you are worth more to your company, then you start constructive negotiations with your employer while at the same time looking around to see if there are any alternative jobs. If you are worth more to your current employer then you are probably worth even more to someone else. Make your employer realise that and they'll make an effort to keep you. But negotiate on a person by person basis, not by representing the entire workforce, some of whom will inevitably letting the rest down and who the management see no interest in rewarding. The concept of a job-for-life is finished and it's time people accepted that (and Cabin-Girl is a primary school teacher here in France so she thinks she's untouchable). 

The French unions are still smarting after the recent decision by Mr Macron to relax labour laws and allow small company managers (up to 11 workers) to negotiate directly with their workers, bypassing the unions. I guess that this is not the case in the Port in St Malo but if the results are positive it may well be that they extend the law to bigger companies. Up to 50 workers is still relatively relaxed in France but beyond that figure things get complicated and expensive. Here are the details of the reforms:

https://www.thelocal.fr/20170922/french-labour-reforms-whats-actually-going-to-change

Neil wrote: They help the employees not to be ripped off by unscrupulous employers.

I'm not sure that's true at all. Strikes just draw public attention to the fact that a company is potentially experiencing internal disputes. That then leads to a loss of confidence at the very time when they need their customers to continue supporting them. Union officials may be able to help employees who feel they are being mistreated but must do so on a case by case basis. Unless the entire workforce is at dire risk, striking is a sign of weakness in the union's ability to represent the employees. They are therefore not fit for purpose. Luckily in France the CFDT union is gaining ground on the traditional CGT, FO, SUD et al, as they are much more open to dialogue, realistic about what they can achieve when working with large conglomerates who limit their room for manoeuvre and cover a much wider range of social strata and workplace hierarchy. Ed

 

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Wow just wow at your assumptions @Cabin-boy look at the train drivers employment conditions and pay compared to say Ryanair pilots, which one has a strong union? I can understand why unions can cause harm but to say that a strike shows union weakness just goes beyond the realms of belief.

I know the last time I went on strike I got a 3% pay rise each year for 3 years as opposed to a pay cut that was proposed by the management.

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6 minutes ago, neilcvx said:

I know the last time I went on strike I got a 3% pay rise each year for 3 years as opposed to a pay cut that was proposed by the management.

So your salary rose faster that the rate of inflation. In what possible way is that sustainable for the economy in the long term? And what did you offer your employer in exchange for such a generous pay rise? Aside from a promise not to go on strike again. And I assume you insisted you could only morally take that 3% if everyone else got exactly the same because that's how socialism works, isn't it? Ed 

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2 minutes ago, Cabin-boy said:

So your salary rose faster that the rate of inflation. In what possible way is that sustainable for the economy in the long term? And what did you offer your employer in exchange for such a generous pay rise? Aside from a promise not to go on strike again. And I assume you insisted you could only morally take that 3% if everyone else got exactly the same because that's how socialism works, isn't it? Ed 

Basically I got a “pay rise” if my pay had went up with inflation it wouldn’t have been a rise as I would still have the same spare cash, I’m not going to explain to how profitable companies figure out how they divide their earnings but they are still going strong so obviously have a good management structure with regards to remaining profitable and haven’t managed to bankrupt the country yet, I personally don’t think wanting a decent wage and working conditions is too much to ask when the company makes millions and you just have to look at sportsdirect to see where no unions are available to negotiate working conditions and pay ,Socialismor Victorian style sweatshops? You decide.

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@cabin-boy. I’m sure not all employers are bad but it is equally true that they are not all universally good. I just think that it’s a sad reflection on society that one would be hard pushed to think of a 21st century Robert Owen, Titus Salt or William and James Lever.

Perhaps I'm just being unrealistic.

 

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1 hour ago, neilcvx said:

Basically I got a “pay rise” if my pay had went up with inflation it wouldn’t have been a rise as I would still have the same spare cash, I’m not going to explain to how profitable companies figure out how they divide their earnings but they are still going strong so obviously have a good management structure with regards to remaining profitable and haven’t managed to bankrupt the country yet, I personally don’t think wanting a decent wage and working conditions is too much to ask when the company makes millions and you just have to look at sportsdirect to see where no unions are available to negotiate working conditions and pay ,Socialismor Victorian style sweatshops? You decide.

Errr, gentlemen please - I sincerely hope the issues at St Malo are not related or comparable to those at Sports Direct, which arose from the use of subcontract (mainly EU migrant) labour controlled by gang-masters - probably even involving modern day slavery practices!  Common knowledge locally.

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Precisely, I don't see any point in making a comparison with a high-street/out-of-town retailer as the circumstances are in no way related. G4rth is correct that not all companies are good but, given the trading conditions and uncertainty which exists in the modern economy, most of those that I come into contact treat their employees very well, giving them very little cause to complain. You can not begin to imagine the amount of time wasted in France in meetings between management and unions, frequently used by the reps as way of guaranteeing they don't actually have to do any hard work on the production line themselves. One of my customers runs a sand-blasting company and recently branched out into powder-coating services after having won a series of contracts with STX in St Nazaire for the liners they are building. The expansion would have resulted in a total work force of 20-odd people, meaning the liklihood of union representation. Rather than complicate his life further, he simply set up the painting service as a totally separate business to keep the employee numbers below the threshold. It might cost him more in admin to do things like that but every hour he saves around the meeting table with unions is an extra hour to bring in new business and provide work for his employees. 

Ed. 

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The comparison was to show what working conditions for an employee can be like without union representation.

It seems like @Cabin-boy you think all employers are good eggs and treat employees well which just isn’t the case and that companies can make massive profits and pay big dividends to shareholders and management bonuses but a 1 or 2% above inflation pay rise to workers is somehow unsustainable??? 

You seem to think unions are there to provide a cushy number for a couple of stewards rather than look at their achievements such as safe working environments, decent pay , decent breaks all things all employees should have as a guarantee not just because their employer is a decent bloke , I’ve met and read about plenty unscrupulous employment conditions to know that there are plenty bad employers that need reminded of how to treat their employees.

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Assuming Neil you have done your research into the company you are applying to and then read the contract carefully before signing it there should be no problem. If something is not mentioned that you believe should be, insist that it be amended. If you don't like the conditions, try to find a compromise or simply walk away. A safe working environment and regular breaks should all be laid out in the contract or company charter. If the employer then breaches any aspect of the contract you have a case to take to the tribunal. As to how much they have to pay you, I'd say it's up to them. Yes, we all like more but the investors will always come first. And of course the managers will get more as they are the ones taking the risks. As to union reps having cushy jobs, well that depends on the union and the company but it's a well known way of getting out of doing any real work, over here at least. Some do work hard for their union and defend their colleagues but always do so with one eye on the next round of elections to be sure of keeping their privileged position. 

So in light of all that, which of your above allegations of employee exploitation and mistreatment do you think the dockers in St Malo are protesting, in the unlikely event that the port authorities have for some reason decided they can ignore the French employment code this year? Or could it just be that they are a bunch of greedy, ungrateful troublemakers who, as soon as it got a bit nippy outside, decided to burn some pallets, grill some sausages and try to blackmail their bosses into a bit of extra cash in time for Christmas (with the added bonus of pissing off several thousand Brits at the same time)? Ed. 

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It must be grand living in @Cabin-boy s world where you’re in a job and nothing changes no reduction in working hours threats no employers threats to cut your wages or fire you and you just accept that you’re working environment is safe , I take it you put your blinkers on when the construction companies in the uk just blindly ignored health and safety and when zizzi docked waiters wages for unpaid customers meals? I guess these employees should all just walk away and let someone else be exploited?

Managers take risks? Company owners take risks , I think you seem to by that comment company directors .

 

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So.....back to the dockers at St Malo.  

Anyone know what their gripe is?

And does anyone advocating their cause want to suggest/explain how the port of St Malo is behaving unscrupulously as an employer?

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5 minutes ago, Gareth said:

So.....back to the dockers at St Malo.  

Anyone know what their gripe is?

And does anyone advocating their cause want to suggest/explain how the port of St Malo is behaving unscrupulously as an employer?

I would suspect that it’s probably a minor point but one on which either side is willing to budge , I can’t remember the dockers there going on strike before seemed to be Ouistreham maybe it’s a similar issue moved along the coast, it’s not a problem BF can apply a quick fix to regardless.

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36 minutes ago, Gareth said:

So.....back to the dockers at St Malo.  

Anyone know what their gripe is?

And does anyone advocating their cause want to suggest/explain how the port of St Malo is behaving unscrupulously as an employer?

To be fair Gareth I would have thought that in the absence of any information as to the cause of the current action it is just as difficult for anyone to explain how the Port of St Malo is not behaving as an unscrupulous employer.

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