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Union deal avoids SeaFrance strikes

Union agrees to back ferry operator's rescue package, which will see half of jobs axed and on-board services cut back

SEAFRANCE looks to have avoided the threat of strike action over the summer holiday despite announcing a massive job cuts programme that will see almost half of workers leave.

The CFDT union, which represents the majority of SeaFrance workers, has agreed to back the rescue package which will involve 725 jobs being axed out of a total of 1,580.

French rail operator SNCF, which owns the loss-making ferry operator, had warned the union that if the rescue plan was not accepted the company could be forced into liquidation.

SeaFrance was also concerned about the financial impact that any further strikes would have on the company, which lost €15m in the first four months of 2010.

Crossings over the Easter holiday, traditionally the firm’s busiest period, were disrupted by a five-day walkout which lost SeaFrance an estimated €1.25m and affected thousands of passengers.

Under the newly announced rescue package, staff work patterns will be "optimised" to fit around the peaks in demand. This means that some shops and restaurants will not open on the quietest crossings.

The measures are more drastic than those first announced at the start of the year, when SeaFrance planned 482 job cuts.

The CFDT union said it had decided to support the plan, but wanted the job cuts to come from voluntary departures and non-replacement of staff - no compulsory job losses.

SeaFrance entered bankruptcy protection in April, allowing it to legally suspend some of its debt repayments to get the company back on track.
The firm says it will continue operating a normal ferry service throughout the summer and bookings are safe.

Related stories:
SeaFrance problems won't stop ferries

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