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Strike Shuts Down France’s Largest Port

June 9, 1994

MARSEILLE, France (AP) _ Longshoremen went on strike in France’s largest port on Thursday morning, paralyzing shipping as they push for higher pay.

The walkout, organized by the Communist-led General Labor Confederation, was to spread nationwide from Friday to Sunday, union officials said.

Union Secretary Gilbert Natalini demanded ″the immediate opening of negotiations″ with docking companies.

The longshoremen were demanding higher pay and expanded hiring after their companies sought to cut costs and payroll to better compete with lower-wage European ports like Barcelona, Spain, and Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The strike ″is catastrophic for our businesss, the port, the region,″ countered Georges Chapus, vice president of an organization representing port operators in Marseille.

Unemployment has soared in recent years as a result of layoffs and company failures in this Mediterranean port, blamed on Europe’s recession and competition with the other ports.

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