Still no DFDS Calais sailings, MyFerryLink ships laid up.
The strike by MyFerryLink workers following the sale of the ferries Rodin and Berlioz to DFDS, and the decision by Eurotunnel not to renew their employment contract, entered its third successive week today. MyFerryLink workers continue to occupy the two vessels, in protest at the sale of the vessels by Eurotunnel to the Danish company. Both Groupe Eurotunnel and DFDS have rejected talks in Paris about the situation, due to the ships still being occupied. However, it is believed that the French government are renewing efforts to establish round table talks.
There have been conflicting reports that the ships themselves may have been sabotaged by the crews. What is known for certain however, is that the MES (Marine Evacuation System) has been deployed – it is believed that the crews are being supplied through these chutes. P&O sailings are operating to Calais with the usual 5 ship service. An additional ship, the freighter European Seaway, is widely expected to enter service in the next few days, having already arrived at Dover from layup at Tilbury. DFDS continue to be barred from using the Port of Calais, and have rejected an offer from the Syndicat Maritime Nord (the union at the centre of the dispute) to operate a single ship every 12 hours into the port. 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”. An additional ship, Calais Seaways, is however operating on the DFDS service to Dunkerque, with Malo Seaways (ex Stena Nordica) laid up at Dover.
Operation stack, where part of the M20 in Kent is closed off to act as a car park for a backlog of lorries waiting to travel to France, was stood down early this morning, having been in force for the previous 4 days. The union are hoping that a Paris court will rule that the charter agreement between DFDS and Groupe Eurotunnel is void, in the hope that MyFerryLink will continue to operate with Eurotunnel backing for another 2 years. However, the operation of the ferries on behalf of Eurotunnel has been the subject of a long running legal dispute in the UK.
Image: MyFerryLink ferries Berlioz and Rodin captured back in 2012. Competitor DFDS have agreed the terms and conditions regarding a purchase of the two vessels with owner Eurotunnel. Photograph Copyright © Scott Mackey.