December 13 2013 Latest news:
Nick Ames, Reporter
Monday, June 11, 2012
Workers Co-op to run them on Dover Calais route
Eurotunnel has bought three ships from the defunct SeaFrance company and is set to break into the highly competitive cross Channel ferry business.
The Berlioz, The Rodin and The Nord Pas-de-Calais are all set to be sailing the Dover to Calais route by the end of this summer following the £60 million deal, approved by the Paris Commercial Court on Monday.
The company will manage the vessels and lease them for operations to a new business to be named Eurotransmanche.
SeaFrance, after a history of problems with its workforce and a number of large scale bailouts from the French government, went into administration on January 9 2012.
The new business is expected to create 500 jobs in France and 100 in Kent.
Eurotransmanche has been formed from former SeaFrance employees who will use their redundancy money to finance the running of the company under a deal put into place by unions and the French government.
“Our plan is to manage the ships and leave the independent operation to run them,” said a Eurotunnel spokesman.
“The workers co-operative will run the ships and this consists of ex-employees of SeaFrance.”
Prior to its eventual folding the French ferry operator, part of the national railway operator SNCF, had experienced problems with militant unions, many of whose members had Communist Party affiliations.
However Eurotunnel do not see this as an obstacle.
“Back then the company was in the public sector and had a public sector union,” said the spokesman.
“These workers have elected to use their own money to finance the operation so they will not want it to fail. Also they have been made redundant once, so they will not want to lose their jobs again.”
The three ships have been out of action for eight months and berthed in French ports so they will require overhauling to bring them back into operation.
They will also need to have their engines and other equipment bought into line with current EU emissions rules.