Corsica ferries' service return to normal

17th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

MARSEILLE, France, Oct 15 (AFP) - Ferry services between mainland France and Corsica and North Africa operated by the debt-ridden SNCM company were returning to normal Saturday after a costly 24-day strike by seamen though demonstrations were planned in Marseille and the Corsican port of Ajaccio.

MARSEILLE, France, Oct 15 (AFP) - Ferry services between mainland France and Corsica and North Africa operated by the debt-ridden SNCM company were returning to normal Saturday after a costly 24-day strike by seamen though demonstrations were planned in Marseille and the Corsican port of Ajaccio.

The Pascal-Paoli, hijacked by members of a Corsican trade union during the strike and freed by helicopter-borne commandos, arrived in the Corsican port of Bastia Saturday morning without any major presence of security forces or Corsican nationalists or trade unionists.

On Friday the Paglia Orba, a cargo and passenger vessel, left Marseille, the scene of workers' blockades during the industrial action, for Porto Vecchio in southern Corsica, carrying freight and only a few passengers.

Crossings to North Africa were set to resume on Saturday with a service to Tunis using the Mediterranee ferry -- the strikers' former headquarters.

SNCM workers agreed on Friday to end their dispute over the proposed privatisation of the company, having voted by a large majority on Thursday to return to work to avoid bankruptcy and the loss of all 2,400 jobs.

The strike was called on September 20 to protest against government plans to sell the SNCM to private investors.

In Marseille, a joint trade union demonstration was planned Saturday, led by the general secretary of the Communist-led CGT union Bernard Thibault, to show the organisation's solidarity.

Another demonstration was planned in Ajaccio though Corsican unionists pulled out after the CGT voted to go back to work.

The strike cost the company EUR 1.5 million euros per week and triggered nationalist-related violence on Corsica.

SNCM management -- which posted an annual deficit of EUR 29.7 million last year -- had warned that they would officially declare the company bankrupt at the end of this week unless work resumed.

Under a revised privatisation package the government has agreed to retain 25 percent of the SNCM, with private investment firm Butler Capital Partners and transport company Connex sharing 66 percent, and staff taking nine percent.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

0 Comments To This Article