St Malo’s port is open for business

BLOCKADES, protests and other industrial action may finally come to an end in St Malo now that a new stevedore company has been set up.

Disgruntled stevedores barricade the entrance to St Malo’s ferry port in July after many were made redundant. A new company has taken over the operation and the ports is open for business.
Disgruntled stevedores barricade the entrance to St Malo’s ferry port in July after many were made redundant. A new company has taken over the operation and the ports is open for business.

Progress has been made between unions, port authorities and port users as Solent Stevedores takes over operations, having made an agreement with unions to reinstate the jobs of 25 of the 32 workers made redundant earlier this year when the previous company, St Malo Manutention, went into liquidation.

SMM had been owned by Morvan Fils, which is part of the Condor group and four other businesses.

A Condor spokesman expressed relief at the arrival of the new provider.

‘We are very pleased that a new stevedore service provider has been established in St Malo,’ he said.

‘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 new team started just over a week ago and the weekly freight service from the UK and the islands to St Malo resumed at the weekend.

The freight services stopped on 4 July.

It now also provides more certainty for passengers. However, there is currently no direct Guernsey link at the moment.

Problems began earlier this year when SMM went into liquidation, leading to the loss of 32 jobs.

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

This resulted in large-scale protests with stevedores from all over France marching in support of those in St Malo.

At one point stevedores barricaded the entrance to St Malo’s port using burning street furniture.

Condor had planned to restart its crossings between St Malo and Jersey on 3 July but was 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 and continued until recently.

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