Protesting French ferry workers ransack boat

French ferry workers who caused travel chaos in Calais this summer have caused millions of euros of damage by trashing one of the ferries before handing it over to Eurotunnel. Every single seat was slashed with a box cutter, reports say

Protesting French ferry workers ransack boat
One of the My Ferry Link boats that was trashed by striking French ship workers. Photo: AFP

Striking French ferry workers who caused travel chaos in Calais trashed one of the two ships they occupied for two months, drank its bars dry, slashed hundreds of seats with box-cutters, and stole televisions and fridges, the ships' owner, Eurotunnel, has said.

The damage was revealed by experts sent in last week to inspect the MyFerryLink boats as Eurotunnel prepares to hand them over to DFDS ferry operator after a deal reached  to resolve the industrial dispute.

“Somebody systematically slashed every single seat, bench and armchair in the cafés, bars and public areas,” Eurotunnel spokesman John Keefe told The Daily Telegraph.

The seats are believed to cost between €300 and €500 each, and the total amount of damage done to the ships could be more than two million euros.

“They trashed the bars, smashed the cash registers and helped themselves to fridges, televisions and sound equipment,” said Mr Keefe.

It will cost several hundred thousand euros to replace or repair the emergency evacuation chutes and the lifeboats of both the Rodin and the Berlioz ferries that were deployed by the workers during the dispute.

Around 25 workers from the Syndicat Maritime Nord (SMN) union occupied each of the two ships moored in Calais docks since early July in a protest over the potential loss of 600 jobs caused by the sale of MyFerryLink to Denmark's DFDS.

The strikers also blocked roads leading to the port, burning tyres on motorways, and brought trains using the cross-Channel tunnel to a halt when they invaded the nearby Eurotunnel terminal.

No-one was immediately available at the SMN union to comment on the accusations by Eurotunnel when contacted by The Local. But its leader, Eric Vercoutre, told local media late last week that he disapproved of the “unfortunate” slashing of the seats on the Rodin.

He also said he was proud of the “admirable combat” of the ferry workers.

Under a deal struck last Monday to resolve the dispute, 402 French ferry workers workers will be kept on.

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Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

Students blockaded five schools in Paris on Tuesday to demonstrate their political concerns ahead of the second round of the Presidential elections on Sunday.

Students blockade Paris schools in election protest

In addition to the five blockaded lycées, the université Paris 8 in Saint-Denis was closed “for security reasons”.

The students – who are too young to make their voices heard at the ballot box – were protesting against the options available to voters in the second round – where incumbent Emmanuel Macron takes on far-right leader Marine Le Pen – and follows earlier student protests at the Sorbonne.

Many were demonstrating in protest at what they saw as inadequate policies on climate change and social issues from both candidates in the final round of voting, as well as the lack of choice for the electorate.

“It is a continuation of what happened at the Sorbonne,” one student told AFP. “We want a third social round, because the two candidates qualified for the second round have no social or ecological programmes. 

“We want to give a new breath to this Fifth Republic a little at the end of the race.

“We are fed up with the fascist state. We are here against Marine Le Pen, against fascism, for the climate and against capitalism,” another student at the lycée Louis-le-Grand in the capital’s fifth arrondissement said.

“We have blocked all the entrances. We will stay there as long as possible.”

About 100 students blockaded the prestigious school. Some students chant slogans against the “Front National” – the former name of second-round candidate Marine Le Pen’s far-right Rassemblement National party.

The blockades ended peacefully at the end of the day.