A dramatic escalation in an industrial dispute in Corsica has paralysed transport to and from the French Mediterranean island. Protestors have blockaded airports and ferry terminals. The row over plans to privatise the state-owned SNCM ferry company erupted several days ago when workers commandeered a passenger ship.After violent protests and failed negotiations, it has intensified into what looks increasingly like a general strike. The island’s commercial life has been badly hit and fuel supplies affected. The demonstrations are set to extend to the mainland on Saturday with a rally in support of union members who were arrested over the ferry hijacking. Against this background, militant separatism on the island appears to have surfaced again. The headquarters of the French government on Corsica were damaged in a rocket attack though it is not clear if this was linked to the strikes. The French government has suggested the state keep a 25 percent stake in SNCM, employees 5 percent, and the private sector take up the remaining 70 percent. But the priority for the French government is to stop SNCM from operating at an annual loss of 30 million euros.
Ferry dispute paralyses Corsica