French police reopen Marseille port
French riot police launched an operation Thursday against striking ferry workers who had been blocking access to the southern French port of Marseille since Tuesday. They arrested 14 workers, according to the CGT trade union, and cleared the way for ships to enter and leave the port.
The workers of the SNCM, the National Maritime Corsica-Mediterranean company that provides transportation between Corsica and the mainland, have been on strike since 31 January to protest the shutting down of some ferry lines.
The CGT union denounced the use of force against the workers.
“That is unacceptable for us,” said union representative Frédéric Alpozzo.
The local Prefect, Gilles Leclair, said 600-700 mobile security forces cleared the entrance to the port and brought in for questionning workers who were blocking it with rowboats.
Thierry Mariani, junior minister for Transportation, said Thursday that it had been necessary to force the port to reopen, even if the decision to do so was a difficult one to make.
Dockworkers at the port went on strike in solidarity with the arrested ferry workers.
"As long as there is no solution for our detained comrades, there will be no work on the whole of the port,” Pascal Galéoté, general secretary of port’s CGT union branch.
The workers will likely be released later on Thursday.
The port had been blockaded since Tuesday afternoon by strikers who have been protesting at a decision by the company to reduce the number of vessels sailing between Nice and Corsica.
Management has said the decision was made at the request of authorities in Nice, who wanted to limit disruptions for residents around its port.
The union dismissed the explanation, saying the company – which is owned by Veolia (66 per cent), the government (25 per cent), and the workers themselves (nine per cent) – wants to start laying off workers.