Danish ferry operator DFDS has rejected an offer from MyFerryLink seafarers to partially lift the blockade they have been imposing on the company since 29 June at the French port of Calais.
The seafarers offered to let one DFDS ship into the port every 12 hours but have said that the proposal is a concession towards French government efforts to resolve the impasse at the port rather than towards DFDS.
DFDS, which has agreed with MyFerryLink parent Eurotunnel to take the two former MyFerryLink car ferries, Rodin and Berlioz, on charter, has been diverting its own ships on the Dover-Calais route to nearby Dunkirk since the blockade started.
Spokesman Gert Jakobsen told IHS Maritime, that the offer from the seafarers, who had been supplying their services to MyFerryLink via an independent co-operative called SCOP SeaFrance, was not enough.
“We think it is a first positive sign,” he said, “but it is insufficient as we can’t operate a route on the basis of such a scheme.”
Seafarers’ union leader Eric Vercoutre was quoted in the Le Parisien newspaper as saying that the crews had decided to offer a partial lifting of the blockade to show that they were not “extremists”.
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In the meantime, however, the union is pursuing its efforts to have the charter agreement between Eurotunnel and DFDS quashed in the hope that Eurotunnel can be forced to continue backing MyFerryLink for at least two more years.
Vercoutre told Le Parisien that he was hoping to have an early ruling on this question from the Paris court of commerce.
Meanwhile, the French government is trying to organise a round table meeting between the seafarers, DFDS and Eurotunnel for next Monday. It is hoping that DFDS and Eurotunnel, which is keeping the MyFerryLink freight ferry Nord Pas de Calais for its own use, can be persuaded to take on more former MyFerryLink seafarers.
DFDS has proposed taking on 200 seafarers out of the more than 600 employed by the SCOP, while Eurotunnel has indicated that it can provide jobs for another 120.
A round table meeting planned for 13 July had to be cancelled after DFDS and Eurotunnel indicated that they would not take part so long as action was being taken against their vessels.