Ro-pax blocked in Marseille

French workers target first call of Corsica Linea ship as ferry war with privatised SNCM hots up.

Unionised French workers have blocked a ferry aiming to compete with the newly privatised SNCM on services to Corsica.

French reports said the CGT union targeted the 21,200-gt ro-pax Stena Carrier (built 2004) on Tuesday in a bid to disrupt the start-up Corsica Linea.

This company has been formed by Baja Ferries with a consortium of 150 Corsican businesses after the Mexican group lost out in the bidding for formerly state-owned SNCM in November.

Businessman Patrick Rocca was the winner in the race for a price reported at EUR 8.9m ($9.56m).

Baja boss Daniel Berrebi told TradeWinds Rocca was the lowest bidder at EUR 3.7m, however.

He called the decision to award SNCM to Rocca “unacceptable.”

Corsica Linea has chartered Stena Carrier from Stena until mid-February.

It has also bought the 20,000-gt CL Unu (ex Antares, built 1988) from Caiano Shipping of Norway for the Bastia run and will introduce a second chartered ro-ro between Marseille and Ajaccio in February, Berrebi said.

He added: “The French government is lost and not acting to protect the free navigation and the French coast guards have only small zodiacs to try to protect the vessel and the crew.”

The CGT union filed a notice of indefinite strike starting on Tuesday

Rocca’s bid involves retaining 873 workers out of 1,500, French media said.

He has said the company could be renamed Maritime Corse Mediterranee (MCM).

When asked by French media if he wanted Corsica Linea suspended he said no, adding: “But it must be fair, that everyone has the same weapons and the best man wins.”