French milk farmers threaten to join truck strike

French milk producers are considering joining forces with truckers to stage a joint strike over the Christmas shopping period, the head of their lobby group said.

French milk farmers threaten to join truck strike

French milk producers are considering joining forces with truckers to stage a joint strike over the Christmas shopping period, the head of a dairy farmers' lobby group said on Thursday.

A series of strikes and blockades has hit the milk sector in France and other European countries, with producers complaining about a drop in prices which they say threatens their livelihoods.

The truckers' five main unions are in talks with the employers' organisation, mediated by the government, on trying to win wage increases. They have threatened to go on an indefinite strike on Dec. 13 if the talks fail.

"We're talking to the truckers. If they fail, maybe they'll join us. We have what it takes to disrupt the Christmas season," said Pascal Massol, president of the Association of Independent Milk Producers (APLI).

The APLI was one of the groups that backed a delivery boycott in September when French dairy farmers dumped millions of litres of milk.

The protest was suspended after EU farm ministers agreed to offer extra support for the dairy sector. But French dairy farmers are now pressing milk processing firms to pay them more to reflect a partial recovery in market prices.

Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire has said prices paid to producers should increase in 2010 in line with the market but it was not the government's role to set the price of milk.

The crisis in the milk sector was one of the subjects under discussion in Paris at a meeting of EU agriculture ministers.

Speaking on the fringes of the meeting, Le Maire said it was unhelpful to make threats when talks were underway on improving producer prices. "It's not the right method to act under threats or under pressure," he told reporters.

The truckers have staged winter strikes that have hurt the economy several times in the past. They have blocked not only roads but also railways, causing traffic jams, delaying deliveries of goods and disrupting holiday travel plans.

Reuters
Last Mod: 10 Aralık 2009, 22:26
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