DFDS strikes deal with Calais protestors

DFDS has reached agreement with representatives of the former MyFerryLink workers that have crippled Calais with a series of protests this summer.

In a statement today, DFDS said it had struck a deal that will see it employ 202 of the former SCOP-Seafrance employees in its French organisation.

SCOP-Seafrance along with Eurotunnel ran three cross-Channel ferries under the MyFerryLink brand until being told to desist by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority.

Eurotunnel’s subsequent move to sell Channel Ferries Rodin and Berlioz to DFDS, ending its partnership with SCOP-Seafrance, was the catalyst for this summer’s series of strikes, as some 600 workers feared for their jobs and the Maritime Nord union encouraged its members to man the barricades.

Despite the jobs offer being in line with the previous, rejected, one the involvement of the French transport minister, Thierry Mariani, appears to have been enough to turn the tide and get a deal agreed.

Carsten Jensen, senior vice president at DFDS Seaways, said: “This ends a long period of uncertainty for both our employees and our customers on the Channel as this agreement gives us the platform needed to create a sustainable ferry service.

“It also means that we have an equal number of French and UK flagged ships on the Channel, making the service a truly Anglo-French partnership, which we believe is in everyone’s best interests."

Depending on when Eurotunnel is able to deliver the ships to DFDS Seaways, the Berlioz and Rodin are expected to be deployed during fourth quarter of 2015 on Dover-Calais together with Calais Seaways.

This means that DFDS Seaways will operate three ferries on this route instead of two ferries, which are in service today.
Malo Seaways, which currently sails alongside Calais Seaways, will be deployed elsewhere in DFDS’ network.

DFDS claimed that the additional frequency and capacity of the future operational set-up will enhance DFDS’ offering to both freight customers and passengers.

See Commercial Motor this week (3 September) for a News Extra on the impact that the Calais strikes have had on those moving freight from Europe to the UK and vice versa.

The FTA recently called on the French government to compensate UK hauliers affected by the summer of strike action and resulting Operation Stack.

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