CMA CGM is a large container shipping company founded and headquartered in France. With 400 ports, operations in 150 countries, and nearly 200 shipping routes around the globe, CMA CGM is the third largest shipping company in the world. The name CMA CGM, when translated to English, stands for Maritime Freighting Company – General Maritime Company, and represents the merger of two shipping companies, which occurred in 1996.
With success that resulted from growing a shipping brand that began in the 1800s, CMA CGM is a major player in international shipping. It moves a huge portion of the world’s cargo, and it operates in a dangerous industry. The company has faced accidents and incidents that injured and killed workers. Companies like these have a responsibility to keep their workers safe, and when they fail, to make sure they are adequately compensated.
About CMA CGM
The merger that brought about CMA CGM occurred in 1996, but the companies that led to this combination were founded in 1855 and 1978. Together these companies merged to become a world leader in container shipping with headquarters in Marseille, France, and Norfolk, Virginia, and with offices in 160 countries.
Out of 521 commercial ports in the world, CMA CGM services 420 of them. It employs 29,000 people and operates on all the seas in the world with a fleet of 536 ships. In 2015 the company shipped 13 million TEUs worth of cargo. In that year the company also saw $21 billion in revenue, used more than 200 shipping lines, and employed workers in more than 600 offices around the world.
The CGM portion of CMA CGM dates back to a company called Compagnie Generale Maritime, founded in France in 1855. CGM was founded with backing by the French government and after World War II became state-owned, but privately-operated. This meant that the company could operate and compete in the world market and be competitive, but also had to bow to certain political pressures.
CMA was founded in 1978 by Jacque Saade with just one shipping line between Beirut and Marseille, and only one ship and four employees. CGM was fully privatized in 1996 and then sold to CMA to form the current company, CMA CGM. Initially this new company was the 12th largest shipping company in the world, but it quickly grew to take over third place by expanding operations and purchasing new ships. These included the CMA CGM Marco Polo, which in 2012 was the largest container ship in the world.
Fleet and Operations
The CMA CGM fleet is a large one with 536 vessels and a capacity of over two million TEUs for cargo. Some of the largest container ships in the world are part of the fleet, including the Bougainville, Marco Polo, Kerguelen, and Benjamin Franklin. The fleet includes 14 ships that can haul more than 12,700 TEUs of cargo. The smallest ships in the fleet handle just 133 TEUs.
CMA CGM’s operations span the globe and the company owns a number of subsidiaries to better serve local regions. These include Australian National Lines, Delmas, which includes RoRo services, U.S. Lines for trans-Pacific shipping, and APL based in Singapore. The company also owns terminal subsidiaries for port operations, and intermodal subsidiaries, offering non-ship methods of transportation for cargo.
Accidents and Safety
Safety is a crucial element of the shipping industry. Workers for CMA CGM and other similar companies face a number of dangers on the job. Workers in ports and terminals can be crushed by machinery or by dropped cargo; they face fires and electrical problems; and they can easily trip, slip, and fall onto ship decks or into the water and be hurt or killed.
On the container ships workers face the dangers of rough weather and waters. They may be victims of collisions and vessels running aground. They can fall overboard or face the dangers of an onboard fire or explosion. The large containers on these ships also pose a threat. If not loaded and contained correctly, they can shift and even topple out of position.
CMA CGM has faced a number of dangerous situations that put their workers at risk. These include a collision that occurred between the Florida and another company’s bulk carrier in 2013. The collision happened off the coast of China and caused tons of fuel to be spilled into the water, not to mention extensive damage to each of the ships. Investigations found that both ships were guilty of not communicating well and for trying to avoid a collision using an unapproved method. Luckily no one was hurt.
In 2011 the company was not so lucky and an accident resulted in two fatalities and one person seriously injured. The accident occurred aboard the Christophe Colomb as three workers engaged in a lifeboat drill. As they hoisted the lifeboat something went wrong and it tipped downward and then fell 24 meters. One worker was thrown from the boat and the other two were trapped under it. One died instantly, the other later, and the third man was suffered serious injuries.
The accident could have been prevented, according to an investigation. There was a mechanical flaw in the lifeboat assembly that caused it to fall. CMA CGM is responsible for making sure all equipment aboard ships is not faulty and is well-maintained. In this incident, it failed its employees and owed them, and their families, compensation.
Compensation and Maritime Law
If you are a worker in the maritime industry, you have certain rights under maritime law. If your employer has been negligent in your injury or death, you or your family may be able to get compensation. Even if no one is at fault, compensation is still possible depending on the situation. Many of the workers in shipping, like those working for CMA CGM, are seamen, workers aboard seagoing vessels. In the U.S. these workers are protected by the Jones Act and may sue employers for compensation in the event of an accident in which negligence played some role.
Injured workers in maritime jobs must take certain steps to increase the odds of getting the money the need to cover medical bills and other expenses. If you are hurt on the job, get medical attention right away, but also make sure an accident report is filled out immediately and in detail. The next important step is to consult a maritime lawyer and to avoid signing any offers from your employer before doing so. Without this expert legal advice, you may sign away your right to future compensation or adequate compensation. Your family has similar rights in the event you die on the job and should also rely on a maritime lawyer for the best advice.