Tuesday, June 30, 2015

More Delays as MyFerryLink Former Staff Disrupt Freight Ferry Services from Calais

Union Seems to be Intent on Persecuting Innocent Passengers Whilst French Police Impotent
Shipping News Feature

FRANCE – UK – As the British ‘popular’ press concentrates on the ever swelling number of migrants at the Port of Calais, once more at a virtual standstill due to the actions of the members of the Maritime Nord Union and ex SCOP SeaFrance employees, the French media considers more the actions of those involved. With P & O Ferries halted by pickets consisting of ex MyFerryLink staff and Eurotunnel announcing ‘problems due to incidents at the Terminal’ leaving freight trucks and passengers stranded, one wonders what more can happen in a story that is beginning to read somewhat like a Shakespearian tragedy.

Since Eurotunnel stepped in to take over the assets of the former SeaFrance operation, itself abandoned by SNCF when the actions of staff became commercially suicidal, it has run MyFerryLink as a relatively successful supplement to its undersea cross channel services. Despite numerous setbacks through the Courts it persevered until it was clear good money was being poured after bad in the ongoing legal battles.

Now Eurotunnel has confirmed that MyFerryLink has ceased services in their current form after it said, ‘for the past three years [MyFerryLink has] been the victim of an indifference on either side of the English Channel that has led to decisions which have proven to be contradictory and incoherent.’ Yesterday (29 June) the French Court recognised that the bareboat charter agreements with SCOP SeaFrance which expire on 1 July, cannot be renewed or prolonged as the long term lease to DFDS is not comparable to a sale.

Although Eurotunnel is prohibited from selling the ships Berlioz and Rodin until the initial five year period ruled upon in the French Courts when the assets of SeaFrance were passed on, it has confirmed it will seek permission from the French Commercial Court to do so having signed an irrevocable lease commencing July 1 with DFDS, a lease believed to include a clause agreeable to both sides to transfer full ownership of the vessels as soon as permissible.

So Eurotunnel is sticking by its guns, saying it cannot retract an offer accepted after a full tender process for the sale of the two RoRo ferries. DFDS says it will commence a Calais – Dover service using its two new ships and another from its existing fleet, whilst the union forces show no signs of backing down and continue to demonstrate and prevent the free movement of thousands of innocents caught up in the situation.

The delays have caused Kent police to bring phase two of Operation Stack into action, queuing trucks along the southbound carriageway of the M20 as disruption continues and issuing tickets to ensure a fair ‘first come, first shipped’ policy. Unless the French police take a firm grip on the situation, not a likely scenario given their past performances, the only action that is seemingly going to be taken is, once again, migrant related.

The nine feet tall barriers used for the London Olympics are reportedly to be redeployed at Coquelles to help guard the lorry terminal parking near the tunnel entrance, whilst the UK government has authorised the construction of two miles or so of security fencing in the same vicinity to stop migrants gaining access to trucks after they enter the compound.

The UK government has opened a web service to aid travellers but, with the true intentions of the disenchanted now ex staff of SeaFrance/MyFerryLink unknown, the immediate future for services between Dover and Calais remain in doubt as the offer made by DFDS to immediately re-employ 202 of the 580 or so redundant staff seems to have been roundly snubbed by the union.

If anyone doubts the current mood of French workers air traffic controllers across France are planning a nationwide strike on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 July just to add to the misery.

Photo: The delays at Calais have caused migrant numbers to swell as the stranded trucks present an easy target for those wishing to steal a ride aboard the hundreds of freight vehicles.

To read any of the 30+ articles that we have written on this ongoing story and find how this pitiful state of affairs first arose, simply type MyFerryLink into the News Search box.