by Graham Tutthill
French union members have agreed to the proposal to save cross-Channel ferry operator SeaFrance from being put in the hands of the commercial court, but by the narrowest of margins.
A ballot of CFDT members working for SeaFrance resulted in 562 people voting in favour of accepting the board's proposal, and 560 against.
The CFDT is the largest union representing staff members. It had refused to sign the agreement when management and the other unions signed it on Thursday, December 10.
The proposal had been put forward by mediator Daniel Cholley. It recommended 482 redundancies, as opposed to the company's original suggestion of 650, which was subsequently reduced to 550.
The company, which faces a serious financial situation, made an initial approach to the French commercial court on Monday, December 14. Another hearing was due on Thursday, December 17. If an agreement with the CFDT had not been reached, the court could have taken control of the company.
It is understood that the CFDT has not ruled out future strike action in the New Year if there are no improvements.