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French Dockers Hold Ferry ‘Hostage’

“French unions have condemned a commando-style raid carried out by Brittany Ferries management to ‘liberate’ a ferry that had been occupied by dock workers in a pay dispute last month.

They are demanding an inquiry after the company’s chairman, Jean-Marc Roue, led a night time operation by 20 ‘shareholders’ to regain control of the Mont St Michel ferry to break a five-day strike by dock workers in the port of Ouistreham.

The vessel – which operates on Brittany’s Caen/Ouistreham-Portsmouth service – had been blocked by dockers working for a company controlled by the ferry firm in support of a 5% pay claim.

Brittany Ferries defended the action because the ship had been ‘held hostage due to the blackmail of a minority and the stoppage was causing ‘colossal’ losses. It described the pay claim as ‘unacceptable, given the very serious financial crisis the company has just been through’.

But dockers’ leader Michel Le Cavorzin said there should be an immediate investigation into the incident, claiming it could amount to an act of piracy. The management actions raised important questions – including potential breaches of port security and how the vessel had sailed to the port of Roscoff in the absence of most of the crew. The West France branch of the CGT maritime union has also expressed concern and has written to the transport and interior ministries demanding an explanation for the ‘unorthodox actions’ of the company.”

From the Nautilus Telegraph.

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