Strikes force Brittany Ferries to cancel services

Maritime transport company Brittany Ferries suspended all its services between Britain, France, Ireland and Spain on Friday following a series of wildcat strikes by French employees.

Strikes force Brittany Ferries to cancel services
Photo: Mike Cattell

The strikes erupted last week as employees fight to disrupt the company's plans to cut costs by reducing salaries and the number of crossings.

About 8,000 passengers have been affected, the company said.

"Given the strikes that have been been launched in an ill-timed manner, without warning, and the possibility they will be renewed, Brittany Ferries management can no longer ensure the operations of its ships and services to passengers under normal conditions," the company said in a statement.

The company said it had decided to "stop all ships until further notice and disembark all crews with the exception of security personnel."

Among the ferries cancelled on Friday were routes from Plymouth and Portsmouth in Britain to Roscoff, Caen, Cherbourg and Saint-Malo in France and to Bilbao in Spain. Routes were also cancelled between the Irish city of Cork and Roscoff.

The company carries 2.6 million passengers per year, 85% of them British.

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French customs officers strike over job cuts

Customs officers across France will walk out on Thursday in protest at job cuts that unions say will “weaken the customs network”.

French customs officers strike over job cuts

The national strike on Thursday, March 10th is expected to lead to delays at ports, airports and on the Eurostar.

The strike, which will include a rally outside the National Assembly building in Paris, was called by the CFDT-Douane and has the support of other unions. 

A work-to-rule protest over pay and conditions by customs officers in 2019, under the shadow of Brexit, led to delays and disruption at airports, as well as ports including Calais and Dunkirk, and on Eurostar trains.

Unions are calling on the government to axe plans to switch responsibility for import duty collection to the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques by 2024, at the cost of 700 customs’ officer jobs – and, according to strikers, tens of billions of euros to State coffers.

“We are asking for the reforms to be stopped, mainly that of the transfer of taxation, which is disorganising the network with the elimination of nearly a thousand jobs,” CFDT-Douane’s secretary general David-Olivier Caron said.

The planned job cuts come after years of restructuring and streamlining that has seen thousands of positions disappear, the unions say, when customs fraud and smuggling is rising because of a lack of resources.