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Dunkerque takes the strain from Calais closure

DOVER: P&O Ferries announced on July 03 it had resumed services from Dover to Calais following a strike by MyFerryLink workers. During the severe disruption that caused  the M20 motorway in SE England to be used as a truck park, competitor DFDS Seaways continued to run uninterrupted services to Dunkerque as an alternate route to France.

MyFerryLink (MFL) is a workers' cooperative formed after employer Seafrance was forced into liquidation. It is protesting plans to sell the ferries it operates to DFDS. DFDS said on July 01 that its offer to acquire some assets of Seafrance and employ 202 former staff has been rejected by Seafrance administrators.

dfdsmyferrylinkDFDS has now agreed to acquire two of the three vessels operated by MFL from the lessor Eurotunnel after the UK Competition Commission had earlier ruled the cooperative could not operate from Dover.

Commenting on the strike, port of Dover CEO Tim Waggott, said: "The scale and prolonged period of disruption is bad for us all and it is bad for the UK too. The port handles trade to the value of £100 billion every year and every day that this situation in France continues costs the UK at least £250 million. That is simply unacceptable and incredibly damaging."

Carsten Jensen, senior vice president and head of DFDS Seaways in the UK added: "We are deeply concerned that our customers are continuing to face long delays on their cross Channel journeys due to ongoing industrial action in Calais.

"Whilst we appreciate the hard work from the police and port authorities in Dover and France, and we are working closely with them to transport as many [customers] as possible through the alternative port of Dunkerque, some 20 miles east of Calais, the reality is that this situation is simply not acceptable and must not be allowed to continue."

Coincident with the strike, Dunkerque has released figures saying over 24,000 jobs depend on the port, nearly 5,000 of them directly and 18,500 indirectly. In 2013, investment was €47 million and the port produced €3.7 billion of added value to the region.

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