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French Unions Unhappy With Brittany Ferries Cork to Spain Route

8th March 2018
An artist's impression of Connemara, a Visentini built ropax ferry that will be chartered-in to operate the new direct Ireland-Spain route between Cork-Santander, the first ever ferry link between the countries. Operations are to start at the end of April based on schedule of two return-sailings a week An artist's impression of Connemara, a Visentini built ropax ferry that will be chartered-in to operate the new direct Ireland-Spain route between Cork-Santander, the first ever ferry link between the countries. Operations are to start at the end of April based on schedule of two return-sailings a week Photo: Brittany Ferries

For the first time Brittany Ferries will not be operating a ship under the French flag when it starts its new ferry route, linking Cork directly to Spain, next month.

As a result French maritime unions have accused Brittany Ferries of ‘social dumping’ by using, they claim, a ‘flag-of-convenience’ on the planned new route, from Cork to Santander, reports Tom MacSweeney.

Brittany Ferries has chartered the Cyprus-registered vessel, Connemara, from Stena to operate the route. The CFDT union has expressed concern because, it says, this will be the first Brittany Ferries vessels not to fly either the main French flag or the country’s RIF international flag. The RIF is an EU Registry which guarantees to the vessels registered in it access to l European Union Member State’s waters.

Management have, it is understood, admitted that using a non-French registered vessel for the service is ‘exceptional’ but assured the union that it does not “call into question the company’s commitment to the national flag.”

The Chairman of Brittany Ferries has been quoted as saying that the company did not want to take too many risks in the “uncertain context of Brexit” and had decided to use a non-French vessel for the start-up phase of the planned twice-weekly service. The CFDT union says that it “will be vigilant” in watching the operation of the service and will not allow sailors from other countries to be hired to the detriment of French sailors.

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