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French tug unions apply brakes to officer cuts

4 December 2019

French tug unions are pleased that a towing company in the Mediterranean port of Sète has not been allowed to reduce the number of officers on its tugs from four to three, but say they fear that the battle is not over.

The regional maritime authority rejected the request by the Compagnie de Remorquage Maritime de Sète, a subsidiary of Thomas Maritime Services (TMS) on 27 November 2019.

The decision comes after French unions staged a national 24-hour tug strike on 22 October, to raise safety concerns over the towing company's proposal.

The FO branch union at Sète said it was pleased that the reduction plan had not been given the go-ahead but feared the company could repeat its request at Dieppe, Rouen and Bordeaux, the Atlantic seaboard ports in which it also operates tugs.

The CGT union also remained cautious. 'We have won the first stage of the battle to prevent reduction of four to three officers on tugs after the strike but remain vigilant that TMS once again will attempt to obtain the reduction,' said a spokesperson.

The union maintained that security was paramount, a view that received the backing of the union's recent tug seafarers' conference.


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