Calais port stays shut as French strike goes on

AFP - [email protected]
Calais port stays shut as French strike goes on

The port of Calais remained closed for a third straight day on Wednesday as French sailors continued their industrial action. All ferry services to and from the port have been suspended.


There was more disruption for travellers hoping to get across the channel by boat on Wednesday as port workers and sailors from the transport company MyFerryLink continued their strike action.

The workers, who are battling to save around 300 jobs, blockaded the port as they have done since Monday using two of the MyFerryLink ferries.

However as of midnight on Wednesday they will no longer be allowed to occupy the ships.

The blockade has forced thousands to find alternative routes across the Channel or simply cancel their trip.

Ferry operator P&O was once again forced to warn customers that services are cancelled.



There were also reports of huge tailbacks on the A16 that links Calais to the nearby port of Dunkirk as well as major problems on the UK side where lorries were lined up on the M20 as part of “Operation Stack”.



Eurostar trains and Eurotunnel passengers services were running as normal Wednesday after being cancelled for
several hours Tuesday, the companies announced.

But freight traffic on the Eurotunnel is still affected.

Authorities are still advising travellers and truck drivers to avoid the Calais and Dunkirk area completely.

(MyFerryLink workers start a fire to block the Channel Tunnel on June 23rd. AFP)

Striking workers for MyFerryLink were due to hold a meeting on Wednesday morning to take a vote on whether to continue their action.

They could also decide to ramp up their protests and cause the kind of travel chaos seen on Tuesday and on June 23rd when they started fires to block access to the Channel Tunnel.

The head of the Syndicat Maritime Nord union Eric Vercoutre, who has been a spokesman for the strikers has threatened to up the ante on Thursday and Friday.

That could see them block the Channel Tunnel once again with Vercoutre saying an intervention from police does not scare them.

Eurotunnel is pressing charges against the 28 protesters who broke onto the tracks, but has repeatedly asked French authorities to boost security around the site.

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.

Some of the thousands of migrants camped out around the port in Calais have been trying to use the cover provided by the unrest to stow away on trucks headed across the water to Britain.

The ferry route from Dover in England to Calais is one of the busiest in Europe, with British holidaymakers using it to get to the Continent by car.



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