French secretary of state for transport Alain Vidalies has put forward a peace plan aimed at ending the disruption currently affecting cross-Channel ferry services at the French port of Calais.
He has asked MyFerryLink seafarers, Danish cross-Channel operator DFDS, and Channel Tunnel operator Eurotunnel to give their responses to the plan at a meeting he has called in Paris today.
DFDS, which resumed sailings in and out of Calais last week after having diverted them to neighbouring Dunkirk, announced yesterday that it had suspended its Calais-Dover service after one of its vessels was hit by a distress rocket in the French port on Saturday evening.
The head of the co-operative to which the MyFerryLink seafarers belong said he had apologised to DFDS for the incident, which he said had occurred following a verbal clash between DFDS and MyFerryLink seafarers.
Carsten Jensen, senior vice president in charge of Channel operations at DFDS, told IHS Maritime that the company would attend today’s meeting despite the suspension of its Calais-Dover service but declined to say whether or not it was prepared to approve the minister’s peace plan.
“We are going in with a constructive mind,” he said, adding that the company would be looking to see what suggestions were made.
MyFerryLink ceased operation at the start of this month following Eurotunnel’s decision to charter the two car ferries, Berlioz and Rodin, to DFDS, via a lease-purchase arrangement.
Under the minister’s plan, DFDS would provide work for 230 of the 487 permanent contract holders of the SCOP SeaFrance co-operative who had been manning the MyFerryLink vessels on Eurotunnel’s behalf.
Eurotunnel itself, which plans to continue to operate the freight ferry Nord Pas de Calais using crew members from a new co-operative currently in the process of being set up, would employ a further 150 seafarers.
Efforts will be made to find alternative employment for the remaining 107 members of SCOP SeaFrance over the next three months, while DFDS and Eurotunnel have been asked to give them priority treatment if they undertake fresh recruitment over the next five years.