Calais chaos: Travellers curse ‘striking French’

Striking French sailors forced the Eurostar and Eurotunnel to suspend services on Tuesday, prompting many furious travellers to vent their anger at the French and in particular their tendency to cause absolute havoc when on strike.

Calais chaos: Travellers curse 'striking French'
Disgruntled Eurostar passengers forced to wait to get across the Channel. Photo: AFP
Striking workers from MyFerryLink broke onto train tracks in Calais on Tuesday to block the Channel Tunnel, leading to all Eurotunnel and Eurostar services being cancelled.
And understandably, passengers weren't pleased. Many saw the holidays put on hold or trips cancelled and others were forced to turn back home after getting stuck in the Channel Tunnel.
With the strike action being the second in a matter of days to cause to cause absolute travel chaos on both sides of the Channel, it has prompted much anger and only helped to reinforce some clichés about the French.
Here's a selection of some of the views expressed on Twitter by those caught up in the chaos. (Strong language in some tweets).
One reader of The Local suggested the strike was the straw that broke the camel's back and he'd decided to quit the country.

“I've had about all I can take of this backward country and it's race to the bottom. Crap like this belongs in the 70's.

“My wife and applied for a transfer to Canada today,” said the commenter.

Some disgruntled passengers The Local spoke to at Gare du Nord on Tuesday respected their right to strike, but think the French take things too far.

“I'm outraged at the workers. Of course they have a right to strike… But to set fire to something on the tracks is dangerous and irresponsible,” a Briton named Nick told The Local.



He said people in the UK had mixed opinions about the French propensity to strike.

 “There's an underlying respect in some ways. Some people see it as a good thing that the French don't just lie down and take it, but the general impression is that there's too much.”

“Today's disruption was potentially dangerous and it's become quite frustrating for the rest of us.”

Haakon from Norway says they also strike back home, “but never like this”.

“People never burn tyres in Norway. That's crazy. At worst, they may be don't work for a day or two, but there's never anything like this.”

“They're going about it the wrong way,” said his friend.

One frustrated Eurostar passenger from Chicago told The Local: “This is not the most effective way to hold a strike. I support protesting but not when it's violent,” a younger man in the group said.

“They're hurting us.. the tourists. This would never happen in the states.”

(MyFerryLink workers burn tyres to block roads near Calais. Photo: AFP)

“When the mobilization ramps up, we'll block everything”

But there may well be plenty more anger directed at the French this summer with MyFerryLink workers promising more action until  they get what they want.

“We want to make the French, British and Belgian governments understand that if a solution isn't found to save our 600 jobs, there will be a lot of disruption this summer,” trade unionist Eric Vercoutre of the MyFerryLink works council, told reporters.

“When the mobilization ramps up, we'll block everything, ” he warned.

The dispute centres around Eurotunnel's decision to sell two of the MyFerryLink boats, which were formerly Sea France, to Danish company DFDS after being warned by the UK's competition authority. 

Once MyFerryLink ceases operations on Thursday DFDS will take over, but the Danish company has said it will only keep 202 out of 577 workers, reported the Reuters news agency.
Eurotunnel will keep a third MyFerryLink boat running but will only employ around 100 workers, essentially meaning half of the current staff will lose their jobs.

MyFerryLink had wanted extra time to find a solution but on Monday a court in Boulogne dismissed their appeal, which prompted the latest strike action.

But while many passengers are frustrated some say the French should be commended for fighting their corner.

In a blog for The Local Gilles Garnier, member of the French Communist Party’s National Executive Committee, tells The Local that strikes are for Garnier an expression of a healthy democracy. If people lost their leverage against the government and business leaders it would signal a disturbing shift, in his view.

“It’s totally normal in a democratic society that strikes are allowed. Strikes are only forbidden in fascist regimes or dictatorships,” he said, adding that the industrial action in France now is nothing like it used to be.” 

For more click on the link below

Why the French are right to strike



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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.