Striking ferry staff have taken a SNCM ferry from the French port of Marseille and tried to sail it to Bastia .But the French military soon spotted them and to avoid capture by officials the ferry eventually bearthed several kilometres outside the Corsican port.The action was a further protest against privatisation plans proposed by the French government.SNCM is to be sold off at a bargain price of 35 million Euros to Butler Capital Partners. But employees, who work on the ferries which sail from France to North Africa and Corsica, say the ships alone are worth over 450 million Euros. They accuse the government of virtually giving away tax payer assets. In Bastia, violence erupted as the strike went into its second night. SNCM workers have blocaded both this port and that of Marseille as fears of job losses fuel anger over the proposed sell off. Christian Fremont who is regional Prefect based in Marseille has condemned the action.He accusses some SNCM workers of trying to committ economic suicide and of putting all 2,400 jobs at risk. But many workers are adamant that the government will not be allowed to win. SNCM has a record of bad industrial relations and is currenly 200 million Euros in debt.The government is keen to off-load the troublesome company and sees privatisation as the only way to improve the ferry-company’s fortunes.
Striking ferry workers comandeer ship.