• 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
IN PICTURES
Fancy a night hanging in an Alps cable car 'hotel'?
Fancy spending a night in a cable car above Courchevel? Photo: AirBnB.co.uk

Fancy a night hanging in an Alps cable car 'hotel'?

Ever dreamed of spending a night in a cable car high above a ski resort in the French Alps? No neither have we. But those thrill seekers out there who don't suffer from vertigo might want to read on. READ  

Studying in France: what you need to know
France is home to 300,000 foreign students. Photo: Simone Ramella/Flickr

Studying in France: what you need to know

France is one of the most popular study destinations in the world, with nearly 300,000 foreign students. Relatively low tuition fees and the chance to live in France are certainly appealing, but France’s confusing higher education system can be frustrating to navigate. READ  

France vs Denmark: How to deal with jihadists?
What's the best way to deal with returning jihadists? The French want repression, but the Danes go for rehabilitation. Photo: AFP

France vs Denmark: How to deal with jihadists?

While Denmark is to plough millions of euros into helping jihadists reintegrate into society, France is taking a tougher stance as the public calls for more repression in the light of the terror attacks. READ  

Studying in France
France urged to charge foreign students fees
Could non-EU students soon be forced to pay for a higher education in France? Photo: AFP

France urged to charge foreign students fees

Non-EU students should pay the full cost of tuition if they want to study in France, a new report recommends, a move that could earn France €850 million per year. READ  

VIDEO - #Stop Jihadism
France launches shock video to 'stop jihadists'
A screenshot from the "Stop Jihadism" video from the French government.

France launches shock video to 'stop jihadists'

The French government has released a shock video campaign in the hope of dissuading young French nationals from heading to the Middle East to fight with Islamic jihadists, by telling them "you'll find hell on earth and you'll die alone, far from home". READ  

What's on in France: Ten things to do in February
Tightrope walkers at the Nice Carnival in 2014. Photo: Nicolas Grevet/Flickr

What's on in France: Ten things to do in February

Despite the cold, there's simply too much going on in France to stay locked up inside. Here are ten events worth checking out - from France's biggest carnival to a major film festival and Chinese New Year celebrations. READ  

Pollution in Paris
Paris mayor vows to ban coaches and trucks
Pollution levels in Paris have been compared to being in a room with eight smokers. Photo: AFP

Paris mayor vows to ban coaches and trucks

The mayor of Paris has called for a total ban on the most polluting of coaches and trucks in the French capital from July 1st, as she announced her plan to crack down on the city's notoriously dirty air. READ  

It's another new record for France's jobless total
More bad news on the job front for France as the numbers out of work continue to creep ever higher. Photo: AFP

It's another new record for France's jobless total

There was more bad news on the job front for France on Tuesday as the latest official statistics showed that the jobless total continues to creep ever higher, setting new records in the process. READ  

Prayer rug artwork pulled due to Muslim concerns
An art installation showing high heels on Islamic prayer rug has been pulled over fears of "uncontrollable" reactions.

Prayer rug artwork pulled due to Muslim concerns

An art installation showing high heels on Islamic prayer rugs was pulled from an exhibition near Paris after a Muslim group complained the work could provoke "uncontrollable" reactions, the artist said on Tuesday. READ  

Sleeping woman raped on Paris train
A woman on an RER platform. Photo: Fabiana/Flickr

Sleeping woman raped on Paris train

A young woman was raped by two men on Sunday morning after she fell asleep while riding an RER commuter train near Paris. A recent study reports that half of French people feel unsafe when using public transport. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Studying in France: what you need to know
Culture
What's on in France: Ten things to do in February
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
National
The ways French motorists drive expats crazy
National
'French culture demands jihadists are punished not de-radicalised'
Culture
'Midriff the new cleavage' at Chanel's Paris show
Politics
'Syriza victory is good news for French people'
Society
France bars parents from naming baby 'Nutella'
National
France has no entrepreneurs!? What about fart pills for windy lovers?
Society
Nutella to Happy: The wacky French baby names banned by law
Culture
Men's Fashion Week in Paris in pictures - from penises to androgyny
Health
Could France be the next country to ban sunbeds?
Gallery
Ten French words you will never hear in France
National
Wrap up warm: Big freeze to hit northern France at the weekend
National
Muslims in France - 'They say we're not French'
National
Paris wants New York-inspired 'citizen cards'
Gallery
An architect has shown how he thinks Paris should look in 2050
Culture
Where are the real "no-go zones" in Paris? We've listed 10.
Society
Cheese diet helps oldest Frenchman live to 110
National
Charlie Hebdo chief stands firm over cartoons as global protests spread
National
'It feels like I'm in a warzone': Paris tourist
National
Are there really 'no-go zones' in Paris?
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
National
A futuristic vision of Paris revealed... and other news
National
What now for France post-terror attacks?
National
France to beef up its surveillance powers
National
Charlie Hebdo sells out within hours in France
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
France moves to crack down on terror speech in aftermath of attacks
National
French Muslims react to Charlie Hebdo's Muhammad cover
National
'I only had a few seconds to hide from the Kouachis'
National
After three days of terror France feels like a nation
National
IN PICTURES: France's biggest street demos in recent history
National
And in other news in France ...
National
A defiant France rises up on solidarity like never before
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Paris marches for unity after terror attacks
National
OPINION: 'As bloody as it's been, France is not at war'
National
'It's a true nightmare': Parisians react to terror attacks
National
French to march in unity to help heal their wounded nation
National
Profile: the most wanted woman in France
National
Twitter disgust over 'I am Kouachi' hashtag
National
The incredible stories of how some survived the Paris gunmen
National
Al Qaeda threatens a shaken France with more terror
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

513
jobs available