Ferries From France to Channel Islands Affected by Strike Action

condor_in_stmaloPeople travelling from St Malo to the Channel Islands are being urged to check before setting out as industrial action by French crew are affecting sailings.

Boats on the route did not sail on Sunday or Monday and a number of ferries are likely to remain suspended, five days after a walkout by French staff over pay and conditions.

The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) said the workers are on strike over social security benefits and want parity with mainland based staff.

Union spokesperson Laure Talloneau said staff had found their contracts were changed and began action last Thursday when 250 passengers were left on the quayside. She added that they will stay on strike until the previous contracts are reinstated.

However, Condor said the union, which is not recognised by the company, refused to negotiate over terms it offered two days ago. Chief executive officer James Fulford said that the firm does not make a huge amount of money on the route, and could not afford to pay much more money to its staff.

Talloneau has called on Jersey’s government to pressure Condor into changing the sailor’s contracts but Economic Development Minister, Alan Maclean, said it is a matter between Condor ferries, a Guernsey registered company, and the authorities in France.

‘The unions are in dialogue with Condor, all we are concerned about is that the service returns to normal as quickly as possible,’ he added.

Fulford and another senior director spent the weekend onboard one of the boats all weekend and said they had entered negotiations with an open attitude. He explained that the union wanted Condor Ferries to operate under the French flag irrespective of the increased costs that this would entail and the subsequent effect that would have on fares for islanders.

‘I sincerely apologise to our guests who have been inconvenienced by this unannounced industrial action. We are surprised and disappointed that our colleagues in France have chosen to express themselves in this way without notice, particularly as we are in very constructive discussions with them about their work and benefits,’ he pointed out.

‘Condor Ferries is a caring and fair employer and we treat all our employees well, and we place the highest priority on the health and safety of our workforce. We will work with our colleagues in France to resolve this dispute as swiftly as possible in order to resume our services between the Channel Islands and France,’ he added.

It follows a difficult time for the ferry operator. Last month and several sailings were cancelled because of storms. All passengers are advised to check with the operator before setting out.

About Ray Clancy

Ray Clancy has 20 years experience in journalism including contributing articles to print and on-line publications such as PropertyWire.com, Property World Middle East and websites for estate agents. She has also written for the Daily Telegraph and Mail on Sunday.

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