By MarEx 2015-06-23 10:55:42
Over 400 French ferry workers blockaded the Port of Calais Tuesday morning severely disrupting maritime traffic.
Shipping was halted around 4am at the French port and workers erected stacks of burning tires to block the main road leading to the Channel Tunnel. Traffic was suspended through the tunnel linking Britain and France after protestors accessed the terminal on the French side and set fire to tires.
A spokeswoman for undersea train operator Eurotunnel said, “Traffic in the tunnel is suspended because of burning tires, which are the result of port workers,” she said, adding that the incident was at the entrance of the terminal.
Image of highway tire fires. Courtesy of Chris Cary via Twitter @chriscary180605
There are reports of MyFerryLink vessels blocking access at the port. Additionally, all ferries on the high-volume Calais to Dover route have remained suspended through the afternoon.
P&O Ferries reports that all operations at the Port of Calais have been affected by the strike and that it was bearing the brunt of the disruptions.
Eurotunnel said the industrial action had reduced its shuttle train services which transport passengers and heavy trucks between Calais and Folkestone.
“Traffic is disrupted but there are still trains running,” a Eurotunnel spokesman said.
The strikes are in protest to the restructuring of Myferrylink, which will cause the operator to cease passenger transportation July 2. The worker’s union opposes plans by Eurotunnel to sell two of MyFerryLink’s three passenger vessels to Denmark’s DFDS and convert the third to freight.
Helen Deeble, chief executive of P&O Ferries said that Eurotunnel and DFDS had appeared not to engage in constructive dialogue with the staff at MyFerryLink about the changes coming into effect. As a result, many ferry workers have felt betrayed. Around 600 workers are at risk of losing their jobs in the current restructuring plan.
The Eurotunnel spokeswoman noted that the company was well aware of the port worker’s concerns and added that the Eurotunnel was working to resolve their grievances.
“We hope that there will be suitable job proposals tomorrow,” she said, referring to a meeting planned for Wednesday.
The strikes are set to continue until around 8pm local time, but delays at the Port of Calais are expected to continue after it reopens.