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a “made in France” flag of convenience?

In 2021, in the midst of a pandemic, this extremely influential sector, which “Supplementary investigation” is interested in on April 7, 2022, multiplied its profits by six: they represent more than 130 billion euros. Nine ultra-powerful groups share 83% of the market! The first three are European, like the French company CMA CGM. The national maritime transport giant would have a fleet of 500 ships… of which only 28 (or 5%) sail under the French flag.

In this excerpt, a union representative, a former officer on CMA CGM cargo ships, denounces the derogatory regime which allows the company to hire sailors of all nationalities at lower salary levels than their French colleagues.

“Today, a Burmese sailor will have a base salary well below the minimum wage, to work well over 35 hours a week, and without all the French social protection. passes on ships that fly the blue white red flag… On, somewhere, a small piece of French territory, where French regulations apply…”

Simon-Clovis Hyvernat, trade union representative at CMA CGM

to “Further investigation”

The CMA CGM did not authorize the magazine’s team to film on one of its ships and did not grant an interview on this issue. But an officer still serving in the company agreed to testify anonymously on this subject. According to him, the nationality of sailors who work on board cargo ships varies regularly “depending on the economic and political context” and “price of labor“.

Filipino sailors paid 3.25 euros per hour

Thus, we orient ourselves today “to Burma, China, South America“, whereas before, he explains, “we employed a lot of Romanians“. But since the entry of their country into the European Union, making them work has proven to be too costly for the shipowners… The Filipinos have then become “highly demanded in the maritime environment— to the point where there aren’t enough of them to keep up with the demand.

“Complément d’Enquête” has obtained the salary scale applicable to Filipino sailors at the CMA CGM. As of January 2022, the guaranteed minimum wage for an OS (Ordinary Seaman), the least qualified seaman, is 965 dollars – or 850 euros per month. At a rate of 65 hours of work per week, the price, unbeatable, is… 3.25 euros per hour. Or 30% of the French hourly minimum wage…”It’s a race for profitability“, says the officer who testifies in this investigation.

Excerpt from “Cargos: business in troubled waters”, a document to be seen in “Complementary investigation” on April 7, 2022.

> Replays of France Télévisions news magazines are available on the Franceinfo website and its mobile application (iOS & Android), “Magazines” section.

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