New St Malo Stevedore company set up following industrial action

AFTER months of port blockades, protests and other industrial action a new stevedore company has been set up in St Malo.

Picture: Jean-Philippe Acquaviva (29287463)
Picture: Jean-Philippe Acquaviva (29287463)

Problems began earlier this year after the previous company – St Malo Manutention (SMM) – owned by Morvan Fils, which is part of the Condor group and four other marine businesses, went into a liquidation, leading to the loss of 32 jobs.

A new company with a handful of employees was subsequently set up. However, trade unions objected and demanded the reinstatement of all 32 employees.

Large-scale protests followed, with hundreds of stevedores from all over France marching across the city in solidarity with their St Malo comrades. At one site plumes of smoke rose from piles of burning tyres placed at the road entrance to the city’s port.

Condor had planned to restart its crossings between St Malo and Jersey on 3 July but were forced to cancel them until 17 July, when an interim deal between unions, port authorities and port users was struck. However, more industrial action took place during the following weeks.

But further progress has been made, with Solent Stevedores taking over operations and coming to an agreement with unions to reinstate the jobs of 25 of the 32 redundant workers.

In a statement, a spokesperson for Condor said: ‘We are very pleased that a new stevedore service provider has been established in St Malo.

‘This follows three months of discussions and included the setting up of a business by an experienced third-party stevedore company with existing operations in Southampton, Jersey and Singapore.’

The spokesperson added: ‘The new team started on Monday 21 September, so we are happy that our weekly freight service from the UK and Islands to St Malo could resume last Saturday and passenger sailings continue.’

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