The workers in question are employed on CMA CGM’s African services, operated by subsidiary Delmas, and could be relocated to the French Mediterranean port next year.
“Moving these operations to Marseille does not make any sense economically and could cost CMA CGM between €25 million and €30 million,” a CFDT union spokesman told Lloyd’s Loading List.com.
“Le Havre has a long heritage serving the African trade through the Delmas name. CMA CGM risks losing staff with valuable skills, as very few of them would be able or would want to move to Marseille.
“The group would be shooting itself in the foot at a time when its competitors, such as MSC and Maersk, are looking to expand in Africa. CMA CGM’s staff could well end up being recruited by them,” he said.
He did not rule out a strike call in protest at the transfer, but said that for the moment, the union continued to favour discussions with management.
A spokesman for the CMA CGM Le Havre branch of the CGT seafarers’ federation said his members were “at one” with their land-based colleagues in opposing the move.
“We’d be ready to support them through action to the point of tying-up ships in dock to further the protest,” he said.
CMA CGM confirmed that the move was under review, but said no timeframe had been set for its implementation.
A spokesman said: “CMA CGM has always considered Africa as a region of growth potential and where it intends to increase its market share. We will sit down with unions in a spirit of dialogue and discuss this move.
“The Delmas brand needs fresh impetus and in time it will be necessary to transfer staff from Le Havre to Marseille. But we are committed to safeguarding all the jobs concerned."
CMA CGM employs over 550 land-based staff at Le Havre.