Ferry blockades lifted as French seafarers end strike
Date: 01 Mar 2010 10:00Source: Lloyds List
SNCM and CMN reach deal with union to call off strike that was affecting services at Marseilles and Corsica.
French seafarers voted on Friday to call off a strike that has halted ferry services operated by SNCM and Compagnie Méridionale de Navigation between the port of Marseilles and the island of Corsica since Tuesday.
Agreement was reached between the two companies and the seafarers’ leaders early on Friday morning after negotiations at SNCM headquarters in Marseilles lasting 10 hours.
The blockades that the seafarers had been operating at Corsican ferry ports were lifted as soon as the result of the meeting was known.
The seafarers’ section of the CGT union confederation, which led the strike, said that its principal claims had been satisfied.
It said that SNCM had agreed to drop plans to reduce its fleet from 10 to eight ships, to maintain personnel at current levels and to grant full employment contracts to 40 or so seafarers who had been on contracts of limited duration.
It is also understood to have secured a commitment that the Corsican assembly will not grant subsidies to French Corsican ferry trade newcomer Moby Lines before next month’s regional elections.
Moby Lines is due to start a service to the island from the port of Toulon in April and had been expected to benefit from the per capital “social” subsidies paid to its competitor Corsica Ferries.
The union, which claimed that the public service concession for ferry services between Marseilles and Corsica was under threat, wants changes to the existing subsidy system, which it says is favouring foreign flag operators against the concession holders, SNCM and CMN.
Earlier this week, the French government appointed Senator Charles Revet to investigate the union’s claims and to report back before the end of April.
Leading ferry ticket aggregator Direct Ferries has launched a new ferry booking system for travel agents allowing them to make reservations and manage bookings across a vast route network on behalf of their customers.