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France: Industrial Disputes

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the French government on that government's duty under EU rules to (a) keep open French ports during industrial action in France and (b) to compensate UK businesses for the disruption caused during the current Sea France strike. (193325)

My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary raised this issue with Mr. Bernard Kouchner, the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, during a meeting at the UK-France summit on 27 March 2008.

During the industrial action taken by Sea France officers in February and March we maintained constant contact with the relevant French authorities through our embassy in Paris and consul-general in Lille. During this time, the French Government fulfilled their obligations to ensure that the industrial action did not lead to closure of ports and ports were closed only due to adverse weather conditions.

Any UK business which suffered financial loss as a result of the strikes could seek to bring legal action through the French courts. Any claim for compensation would depend on the facts of the individual case, on which independent legal advice should be sought.