Two former MyFerryLink vessels that have been occupied by their former French crews since the end of June are to be freed on 2 September, after a peace agreement was reached in Paris yesterday evening.
The two vessels, Berlioz and Rodin, were taken over by crew members after their owner Eurotunnel indicated that it planned to charter them to Danish ferry operator DFDS rather than continue to operate them under the MyFerryLink banner.
French transport secretary Alain Vidalies announced yesterday evening that the two vessels would be freed by the seafarers tomorrow at 0900 h local time following the conclusion of an agreement providing permanent jobs for 402 of the 487 MyFerryLink seafarers.
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DFDS is to recruit 402 seafarers and Eurotunnel 130 for the Calais-Dover freight ferry service it plans to operate on its own account. The Channel Tunnel operator is to recruit 25 others for its own needs, while 50 others will be taken on by a sub-contractor for Eurotunnel security duties.
The seafarers, who belong to a now-bankrupt employee co-operative which crewed the MyFerryLink vessels for Eurotunnel, are to meet early today and are expected to approve the agreement signed by their representatives at yesterday’s day-long round table meeting organised by Vidalies. The meeting was also attended by the co-operative’s administrator.
Vidalies said that those seafarers still without work at the start of next year would receive a negotiated indemnity on top of regular redundancy payments.
DFDS told IHS Maritime that it hoped to bring the two former MyFerryLink vessels into service between Calais and Dover sometime during the fourth quarter. They would initially be return to their owner Eurotunnel for the completion of formalities before being made available to DFDS.
Once it has the vessels, DFDS plans to operate a three-ship service between Calais and Dover, supplementing its existing three-ship service between Dunkirk and Dover.
DFDS spokesman Gert Jakobsen said it was “a big relief” that a deal had been struck and that company was now better placed to plan future development.