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Published: 18 October 2008      

French ports change their structure

As part of the ports reform programme in France, the country’s seven leading seaports (the port autonomes) are to introduce new management structures and they will also be renamed as Grands Ports Maritimes (GPM).

The changes have to be introduced within three months of a framework agreement at national level between the national port authorities’ association UPACCIM (which represents all the seaports, not just the seven “majors”) and the national dockworkers’ body FNDP-CGT.

At the time of writing, there are signs that a bipartite agreement wil be reached, despite continuing reservations from the dockworkers’ side, but the detailed negotiations still have to take place on a port by port basis, and that is where things could get tricky again.

The first port out of the box is Marseilles-Fos, France’s biggest port (and the one where the CGT has been most militant). Henceforth it is known as Grand Port Maritime de Marseille (GPMM) and is governed under a three-tier system of executive, supervisory and development boards.

The four-strong executive board, with a president to be designated by the State, will take prime responsibility for strategic planning, which in future will focus on infrastructure development. The first task is to define strategy over the next five years, including details of the transfer of cargo handling to the private sector as required by the new law.

The other two boards will replace the current administrative council of 26 members. The supervisory line-up of 17 members will include five State appointees, three from GPMM, four local authority representatives and five from bodies such as the chamber of commerce (CCI).

They will meet four times a year to review the executive’s policy and budget proposals. In a consultative role on strategy and tariffs, the development board is to meet at least twice a year and will include 40 members – 12 each from port professionals, local authorities and development parties as well as four from port-based companies.

  • Laurent Castaing is to take over as director general of the Le Havre port authority (PAH). Castaing joins from the Port of Nantes-Saint Nazaire, where he was an assistant director general.

The appointment has been made soon after Jean-Marc LaCave stepped down as director general of PAH in order to resume a career with French shipping line CMA CGM. PAH’s technical director Paul Scherrer has been acting director general in the interim period.

The French port scene has been a bit of a merry-go-round recently. As previously reported, Jean-Claude Terrier has succeeded Guy Janin in the top job in Marseilles-Fos on the latter’s retirement, while Martine Bonny has replaced Terrier in Dunkirk.

Now Philippe Deiss has taken over from Bonny at Rouen. At the time of writing, the name of Deiss’s replacement at Bordeaux-Le Verdon is not known.



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