• France's news in English

Deal signed to end bitter Calais port dispute

AFP · 1 Sep 2015, 08:07

Published: 01 Sep 2015 08:07 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A three-way deal backed by the French government late Monday raised hopes of resolving a long-running dispute that has hampered ferry traffic at Calais and disrupted cross-Channel rail services.

The agreement was reached after eight hours of negotiations, a day after protesting French seamen carried out a six-hour blockade of the key port.

In a statement, the French transport ministry said that under the deal, 402 out of 487 jobs would be saved at the ferry firm Scop SeaFrance.

Scop SeaFrance had been operating the Calais-Dover route under the corporate name of MyFerryLink until it went out of business.

The company's workers protested against plans to sell off some of their ferries to rival Danish firm DFDS, a move expected to result in hefty job losses.

Their protests caused havoc on both sides of the Channel, with British police closing off sections of motorway to park some 3,000 trucks waiting to board ferries to France at Dover.

Eurostar passenger services were also occasionally disrupted when the workers occupied the track near Calais.

Under the deal, DFDS and Eurotunnel -- which had an operational partnership with MyFerryLink -- agreed to create 402 jobs, the transport ministry said in a statement.

Staff made redundant would also receive "settlement compensation" until January 1, 2016.

The contents of the agreement will be presented to members of the seamen's union at a meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The deal was signed by union officials, Eurotunnel and DFDS and was initialled by Transport Minister Alain Vidalies, who hosted the talks, Scop's liquidators said.

Two ferries, the Rodin and Berlioz, that have been occupied by the protestors for the last two months will be handed over on Wednesday.

Story continues below…

"These vessels will then be deployed on the Calais-Dover route during the third quarter of 2015, along with the ferry Calais Seaways," DFDS said in a statement.

"It means that three ferries will operate on this route instead of two currently."

On Sunday, thousands of holidaymakers were stranded when two lifeboats with protesting seamen onboard took to the port's waters, prompting the harbourmaster to halt traffic for safety reasons.

Calais has also been the scene of cat-and-mouse games between police and hundreds of migrants trying to smuggle themselves into Britain via the undersea Channel Tunnel that links the two countries.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
What Paris 'squalor pit' Gare du Nord will look like in future
All photos: Wilmotte et Assoicés

IN PICTURES: The universally accepted 'squalor pit of Europe' is finally getting a facelift.

Halloween: The ten spookiest spots in Paris
Is there really a ghost on the first floor of the Eiffel Tower? Photo: AFP

Read at your own peril.

Halloween holiday in France: Traffic nightmares and sun!
Photo: AFP

But it's great news for the country's beleaguered tourism industry.

French MPs vote to make Airbnb 'professionals' pay tax
Photo: AFP

Do you make a lot of money through Airbnb in France? You'll have to pay a share to the taxman in future.

France and Britain accused of abandoning Calais minors
Photo: AFP

Scores of young migrants are forced to sleep rough for a second night.

France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available