Mont Saint Michel Strike Goes to Court

MontTransport provider Transdev which operates the shuttle buses to Mont Saint Michel is demanding €50,000 in compensation over strike action at Normandy’s most visited tourist attraction.

The abbey at Mont Saint Michel was closed on Thursday and has been free to visitors for the last 11 days because of a strike by workers at the abbey over the withdrawal of mini buses reserved for staff and inhabitants at the site.

The strike, called by the union SNMH-CGT, has caused Transdev to lose money due to striking workers demonstrating and impeding the circulation of the shuttle buses, according to a hearing at the High Court in Coutances.

Transdev’s lawyer told the hearing that its ability to provide a shuttle service has been seriously impaired by strikers blocking the car parks and routes and it is losing money as the workers have been lifting the barriers so that visitors have been able to park without paying the usual fees.

But the union argues that staff have the right to protest over a serious deterioration in their working conditions as a result of the withdrawal of the mini buses which were reserved for workers and people living on the Mont.

Yesterday six people including abbey workers, union representatives and two business owners were summoned to the court after their pictures were taken by bailiffs acting for Transdev. But on Friday the court threw out the action saying that it was an administrative matter.

Afterwards the union said that 150 staff have joined the protest and it will continue with strike action. ‘We are very angry at their antidemocratic practices and we will continue with out action,’ said a union spokesman.

The Ministry of Culture, which employs the workers at the abbey, has called for calm and for both sides to meet to discuss a solution.

Meanwhile, in a statement Transdev said that it does not consider that a walk of 390 meters from the shuttle bus stop to the foot of the Mont is unreasonable and pointed out that it is the same for visitors as for staff.

‘We decided to take legal action because our service has been disrupted for more than a week, causing severe inconvenience for visitors. We are taking civil action, not criminal action and the object is to obtain a ban on occupying the car park and preventing the circulation of vehicles, and to obey the law. We want to be able to work normally,’ the statement said.

About Ray Clancy

Ray Clancy has 20 years experience in journalism including contributing articles to print and on-line publications such as, 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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