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Britain's 26,000 merchant seamen launched a strike campaign that will hit ferries and trade after talks on their 16 percent pay demand broke down. The National Union of Seamen, already disrupting supplies to Britain's vital North Sea installations to press its demand for the pay increase, is threatening to curb imports and exports by refusing to crew ships bound for foreign ports.

The General Council of British Shipping, the employers' organization, which offered the union a 10.5 percent raise, said a strike would force ships to switch to foreign flags and that British jobs would be lost.

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