Eurotunnel service resumes after French labor action | News | DW | 30.06.2015
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Eurotunnel service resumes after French labor action

Trains are running between Britain and France after protests shut the Channel Tunnel. Workers are demonstrating against plans to sell their ferries to the Danish firm DFDS, which plans to cut hundreds of jobs.

The Channel Tunnel has resumed operation after striking workers succeeded in temporarily halting transit between Britain and France. Both the Eurotunnel car transport trains and the Eurostar passenger services were affected by the disruption.

Workers burned tires and blocked Eurotunnel tracks, forcing the suspension of trains between France and England. Sailors from France's MyFerryLink also tried to dismantle the rails in their third such protest at the Calais port in a week.

"We have been advised by Eurotunnel that we will be unable to run any services for the rest of the day," the Eurostar passenger service announced on Tuesday. "We expect normal service to resume tomorrow." Later, however, Eurostar announced that some trains would run on Tuesday after all.

Authorities said migrants attempted to stow away on UK-bound lorries stuck in the tunnel queue on Tuesday. Thousands of people from Africa, the Middle East and South Asia have camped out long-term in Calais, a source of frequent friction between the UK and France. Some have gone to dramatic lengths to smuggle themselves into the wealthier - if less forgiving - Britain, with some even trying to swim across the Channel.

‘We'll block everything'

Eurotunnel announced in May that it would halt its operational partnership with MyFerryLink, and this month was forced by British authorities to sell its two ferries to the Danish operator DFDS rather than the French workers' cooperative SCOP. The Danish ferry operator has announced that it plans to provide work for only 202 of the current 600 MyFerryLink workers. The sale of the two ferries would leave MyFerryLink with just one boat in operation, meaning that over half the workforce faces redundancy.

"The blockade is in place," trade unionist Eric Vercoutre, of the MyFerryLink works council, told reporters on Tuesday. "We want to make the French, British and Belgian governments understand that if a solution isn't found to save our 600 jobs, there will be a lot of disruption this summer. When the mobilization ramps up, we'll block everything, which could disrupt Eurotunnel."

The tunnel allows for the transport of cars and trucks on special trains between the United Kingdom and France, as well as Eurostar passenger services, which carry about 10 million people through the Channel every year. The ferry workers had also blocked the port on Monday.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who has sought a new relationship with the EU, called a 400-worker-strong June 23 labor action that also disrupted transport "totally unacceptable." He announced increased controls to find migrants in vehicles entering Britain, one of two EU nations to have opted out of the free-movement Schengen accord.

France has begun checking selected passports at its southeastern border crossing with Italy.

mkg/msh (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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