Freight News, Sea

Calais chaos eases for now – updated

[ July 3, 2015   //   ]

Operation Stack has on the M20 approaches to Dover and the Channel Tunnel has been partly lifted, after MyFerryLink workers suspended their strike yesterday (2 July), at least for the time being. Further walk-outs are threatened from next Tuesday, warns the Freight Transport Association.

Although the coastbound motorway remains shut between Leeds Castle and Folkestone, P&O was reported to have resumed normal service between Dover and Calais.
The port of Dover reported at 12.45 today (3 July) that the Port of Calais is now operating two berths which is allowing P&O Ferries to run a full service to Calais whilst DFDS Seaways continues to run a full service to Dunkerque, with an additional ship diverted to the route to help accommodate heavy traffic.

Chairman of Parliament’s All-Party Freight Transport Group, Rob Flello said told the House of Commons on 2 July that a ‘Gallic shrug to the growing number of assaults on drivers involving guns, knives and an iron bar was “not good enough”.

Speaking at the height of the strike by MyFerryLink workers that threw the approaches to the Port of Calais into chaos – allowing illegal immigrants to storm aboard vehicles caught up in the queues – the Stoke-on-Trent Labour MP said: “Drivers are reporting they are being beaten up in their cabs – only a couple of days ago a driver was seriously assaulted by four individuals with an iron bar – and drivers are reporting they are being threatened with guns and knives.”

However: “I’m told the response from the French police, Gendarmerie and other services is nothing more than a Gallic shrug.

“This is not good enough and we need a debate in Government time on this incredibly serious issue before somebody is killed.”

Freight Transport Association deputy chief executive James Hookhamsaid that the overall cost to the UK economy of the week of industrial action could run into hundreds of millions pounds.  Drivers were stuck for days in their trucks on both sides of the Channel in blistering heat and deliveries throughout the country were affected.

“This can’t be allowed to continue.  The French government needs to end this madness now before we see more chaos at the ports, more lorries stacked on our motorways and more damage to the UK economy.”
Burning tyres were thrown on the Eurotunnel tracks and 30 miles of lorries stacked on the M20 in Kent, said FTA.  Industrial action was suspended on Thursday and FTA says enough is enough.

FTA members came to the aid of fellow truckers who were stranded on the motorway during this week’s action by offering to deliver water, soft drinks and dried food.
James Hookham said: “We are doing all we can to help our members cope with the situation by offering advice and information, but the uncertainty will be crippling for some businesses. The ongoing problem with migrants at Calais is bad enough without the threat of strikes hanging over them.  We need a strong intervention by the French Government with a firm commitment that no further industrial action will be taken.”

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