French Brexit protest: Eurostar warns delays set to continue for several days

The Local France
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French Brexit protest: Eurostar warns delays set to continue for several days
Photo: AFP

Eurostar has warned that its services will be hit at Paris Gare du Nord until March 10th at least as French customs officers continue their work-to-rule industrial action to protest over pay and show the effect Brexit will have on cross-Channel passengers.


The company announced on its website that it was "expecting sizeable delays and congestion in Paris Gare du Nord today (08/03/2018)". 
However in the announcement in French it warned that these delays ere expected to last until March 10th as a result of customs officials staging “Brexit-style” security checks at the Gare du Nord station in Paris.
Passengers are being advised to travel "only if necessary" and if they do plan on travelling, "to get to the ticket gates at the time indicated on your tickets, arriving later could risk you missing your train."
"Our services from Paris are currently delayed between 30 and 45 minutes," Eurostar told The Local on Friday. 
However Eurostar passengers took to Twitter on Friday to express their frustration with the situation, with some saying that even though they had left enough time to check-in, they were still worried about missing their train. 
"Chaos at gare du nord. I've arrived in plenty of time for my train, way ahead of 'at departure gate time' but the queues are horrendous-what if I don't get to the departure zone by the deadline?" tweeted Ben Taylor. 
Another passenger tweeted: "We know Brexit is a crock of s*** but @Eurostar are determined to make the experience as joyless as.possible already. Check-in at Gare du Nord in Paris is sheer purgatory."
On top of the delays caused by the industrial action, Eurostar has cancelled a number of services throughout March for operational reasons which is also disrupting travel. 
Meanwhile passenger services on the EuroTunnel were operating as usual and local newspaper La Voix Calais reported that there were no traffic problems on Friday on the A16 motorway (see tweet below). By comparison, on Thursday trucks were backed up for several kilometres along the same motorway.
What's the strike all about?
This is a protest that could run and run.
Vincent Thomazo from UNSA union told The Local on Wednesday that "it's a strike that might last a long time because officers are just doing their jobs."
It began on Monday to press their demands for higher pay and demonstrate what will happen if greater controls are put in place once Britain leaves the European Union, planned for later this month.
"Agents are doing longer checks than usual and it creates traffic jams immediately," said Thomazo.
Thomazo said the extra checks would continue because customs' agents wanted to get the message across to the French government that they were simply not ready for Brexit.
"Our aim is to attract attention to our worsening conditions of work which will only get worse once Brexit happens," Thomazo said.
"We are simply not ready. The administration has simply waited too long to get things in place," he said.
The French government has announced the recruitment of an extra 700 customs officials, a number seen as insufficient by some unions.
Once Britain has left the EU "there will be stronger controls. Today you have a demonstration of what is going to happen," said Philippe Bollengier from the CGT union.



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