• France's news in English
 

Cross-channel chaos as French dockers strike

Published: 03 Apr 2014 12:05 GMT+02:00

Ferry services between England and France were hit badly on Thursday morning after around 70 to 80 dock workers and crane drivers called a wild-cat strike, blocking roads leading to the port.

Without the workers, who went on strike at midnight, it has not been possible to unload the ferries.

In a statement on its website, P&O Ferries, which operates routes between Dover and Calais, said it was running a "limited service" due to industrial action and urged travellers to rebook "non-essential" travel.

A spokewoman for P&O Ferries also told The Local that a boat had left Dover but the company was unsure if it would be able to disembark in Calais.

The company has been forced to transfer much of their tourist traffic heading from the UK to France onto Eurotunnel trains. However there is no plan to do the same for traffic heading in the opposite direction from France to the UK.

"This dispute is between the CGT union and its members and the port authorities," said the spokeswoman. "We are hoping the boats will be able to disembark in Calais but if not they will have to return to Dover. It depends on whether there will be enough staff on duty to unload the ships."

Two other boats, the Pride of Kent and the Spirit of France were due to leave Dover this morning, but it was unsure whether they too would be able to disembark in Calais. P&O Ferries say check-in for tourists at the port of Calais is open but motorists are unlikely to make it through the traffic jams on time.

Port authorities said there were disruptions at the port but some arrivals and departures had resumed in mid-morning.

The walk-out began at midnight, according to the Le Figaro, when dock workers became angry when a firm brought in private contractors to unload a ship.

The strike is set to continue for 24 hours unless called off. The local administrative tribunal said it had received a request from regional authorities for a court order ending the strike. 

There are reports of long delays on both the A16 and A26 motorways leading to Calais with numerous school buses making their way back to the UK caught up in the traffic chaos.

Local newspaper La Voix du Nord reported that French firefighters had to come to the rescue of a bus full of British school children, who were stuck the jams.

Some of the pupils were unwell and others desperate for the toilet. In the end police were called into help the bus exit the jam and head towards the Channel Tunnel rail link.

Authorities in France have also had to take control of several truck loads of animals, who were suffering from dehydration after being stuck in traffic jams for hours.

Alain Merveillie from the CGT union complained that the regional authorities had asked a company to bring in contracted workers to unload a boat, was unnacceptable given that “there is not much work for dockers and crane operators anyway and in a region where there is 18 percent unemployment.”

“They don’t understand that this would create a precedent. We hope they will call us to resolve the situation soon,” Merville told La Voix du Nord.

In a statement on its website, P&O Ferries said it was running a "limited service" due to industrial action and urged travellers to rebook "non-essential" travel.

Have you been affected by the strike? Lets us know at news@thelocal.fr

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Dog buried alive sparks French social media fury
A French mastiff or Dogue de Bordeaux, the same breed as the dog that was found buried alive in France. Photo: AFP

Dog buried alive sparks French social media fury

Photos of a dog buried alive up to its head in France sparked an outpouring of anger on social media Wednesday and police said the owner was taken into custody. READ  

Frenchman caught with nine migrants in his car
Migrants in the Italian own of Ventimiglia. Photo: AFP

Frenchman caught with nine migrants in his car

A Frenchman faces up to five years in prison after he was caught trying to smuggle a carload of migrants from Italy into France. The incident comes amid reports of hard-up French people turning to part-time people smuggling. READ  

Di Maria 'delighted' after €63 million move to PSG
Can Angel Di Maria, PSG's latest recruit take the club to the promised land? Photo: AFP

Di Maria 'delighted' after €63 million move to PSG

Argentina winger Angel Di Maria said he is "delighted" to be joining French champions Paris-Saint Germain in an interview screened on BeIn Sports on Wednesday. READ  

Driver flees after killing 5-year-old Roma in Paris
Emergency crews rushed to the scene but were unable to revive the boy. Photo: France TV Info/Screenshot

Driver flees after killing 5-year-old Roma in Paris

A five-year-old Roma child was knocked over and killed in Paris on Tuesday when he was hit by a van as he crossed the road to meet his mother. The driver abandoned his van and fled on foot. READ  

Greasy mayonnaise halts traffic in western France
A section of motorway in France will have to be redone after greasy mayonnaise spread everywhere. Photo: AFP

Greasy mayonnaise halts traffic in western France

A section of motorway in France has been closed because it has been judged too dangerous. The reason: 20 tonnes of slippery mayonnaise that have been judged a recipe for disaster. READ  

Plan to cut speed limits on French motorways
France could see lower speed limits brought in for certain urban sections of autoroutes. Photo: AFP

Plan to cut speed limits on French motorways

France looks set to continue its drive to cut costly air pollution in certain towns with the government ready to back reducing speed limits on urban motorway sections to 90km/h. READ  

Missing flight MH370
French experts begin examining plane part
The plane part arriving in Paris on Saturday morning. Photo: Richard Bouhet/AFP

French experts begin examining plane part

Technical experts in France began examining a washed-up plane part on Wednesday that almost certainly belonged to missing flight MH370, raising hopes that some light may finally be shed on one of aviation's darkest mysteries. READ  

Calais migrant crisis
Migrant crisis: EU sends millions to aid France
Migrants put up a sign at a camp in Calais asking for help. Photo: AFP

Migrant crisis: EU sends millions to aid France

The European Commission offered on Tuesday to help France and Britain deal with the migrant crisis at the Channel Tunnel, as police on both sides braced for new attempts at the crossing. READ  

Riviera beach-gate
Saudis savaged over Paris hospital bills
Saudi Arabia owes €3.7 million to the Paris public hospital system. File photo: AFP

Saudis savaged over Paris hospital bills

Saudi royals who took over a public beach in southern France recently should have paid their country's outstanding hospital bills before leaving the country, a top French doctor has said. READ  

French parents busted over Disneyland drug run
The family headed home with a car full of stuffed toys and heroin. Photo: CetusCetus/Flickr

French parents busted over Disneyland drug run

Police have arrested a mother and father after finding ten kilogrammes of heroin in their car while the family was heading home from Disneyland Paris. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
'Massacre' of black cats shocks Marseille locals
Education
Rampaging kids trash French kindergarten
French bullfighting president mauled by rampaging bull
National
French court says 'non' to new cockfighting pits
France names capital cities for new regions
Ten things you didn't know about Gay Paris
France eyes boost to holiday leave rights
Business & Money
French dating sites 'not protecting client privacy'
Features
Learn more about the Bayonne festival - France's wildest party
Features
What's on in France: Ten things to do in August
Features
What to see and do at the Paris Plages this summer
Saudi royals 'bar' French policewomen from beach
Take a closer look at the 560,000-year-old tooth found in France
National
Swiss army pilfers French water to give to thirsty cows
National
'B**ch' and 'brainless': French shop slurs clients
Travel
French cops rebel over order to give kids sweets
National
New measures to stop migrant deaths in Calais
Travel
Here are some of the most ridiculous comments you'll read about France
Features
Life may be about to get easier for expats settling in France
National
Burning tyres and blocking roads is just the way the French do strikes
National
Muslim tourists visiting French Alps are reminded of burqa ban
Opinion
Slim and chic: Are French women fed up of the stereotypes?
French officials defend handing public beach over to Saudi royals
Society
French kiss: Should expats in France do 'la bise' among themselves?
National
Paris commuters and tourists face summer of travel trouble
This man learnt the entire French vocabulary in nine weeks, but why?
French speed cameras snare tens of thousands of British drivers
Gallery
What kind of expat in France are you: A lover or a loather?
Society
French tweeters reveal the trials and tribulations of #GrowingupFrench
Where to find the best (and worst) quality of life in France
National
Riviera rumpus as Saudi royals grab public beach all for themselves
What we know about France's foiled terror plot
Features
Here are ten places in Paris where you can escape the summer heat
National
Coup d'état fails in France after being snubbed by military
Are shoppers in northern France the most honest in the world?
French woman fined €90 for driving in flip-flops
Cyclists in Paris get the green light to jump red
'Adieu France': Angry mum's parting rant goes viral
Franco-German rift opens over Greece and it could take time to heal
The Megavalanche: The most spectacular cycling event in France
Ex-French PM's daughter creates a buzz by going topless for photo shoot
Could Parisians be bathing in the Seine by 2024?
Paris unveils new mobile app to help non-French speakers
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,616
jobs available