Wednesday, March 6, 2019

French Customs Go Slow Delays Freight Trucks Even Before Brexit Bites  

Lorries Queue on Motorway as Work to Rule Protest Set to Continue

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Shipping News Feature FRANCE – It seems perhaps that all the much derided precautions which the UK government has been taking to cope with queues of trucks post Brexit will not prevent the likelihood of problems across the Channel, as French Customs officers operate their 'go slow' policy which began on Monday. On that day some freight carrying vehicles waited up to six hours as extra checks were made on lorries before they were allowed to board RoRo ferries headed for Britain.

The work to rule has delayed cargoes in Calais, the Channel Tunnel and Dunkirk to varying degrees and, despite the claim from the head of Customs in Calais that the strike was nothing to do with Brexit, that was not what was being said privately as one local source told us. He said the protest was for an increase in wages as the staff concerned considered the 580 extra staff promised to support them after the UK departs were insufficient.

The protest will concern anyone with an interest in cross Channel trade as the officers concerned cannot be sanctioned for ‘just doing their jobs’ as quoted by Vincent Thomazo from the UNSA union. He added that the action might well continue for some time and other Customs officials said that the proposals for working post Brexit had engendered ‘deep anger’. At times during this protest the queues outside Calais and the Tunnel extended some way, blocking the A16 motorway.

Last week the French Customs issued a 32 page document of new procedures. They have stated there will be two traffic lanes, one for goods cleared in transit, the other to park trucks awaiting clearance. The French have side-lined €6 million for parking to check documents for perishables such as foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals etc. promised ANPR technology to identify all trucks and a further €50 million to support ports.

Despite spending €100,000 in a bid to have British companies reregister their businesses in Northern France the Mayor of Calais, Natacha Bouchard, said recently that the region was ‘very far from having resources ready’.

Freight forwarding groups are warning customers of potential delays with Essex based Woodland group advising clients that they should expect delays with services disrupted possibly up to 48 hours and both imports and exports affected.

Photo: Courtesy of the Woodland Group.

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