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Eurotunnel Strike to Hit Bank Holiday

Eurostar Emerging from Eurotunnel's Channel TunnelThousands of British holidaymakers could face disruption on the Channel Tunnel this bank holiday weekend due to French unions threatening to hold strikes. Eurotunnel, which operates the tunnel and car shuttle services, says there’s a possibility that French drivers won’t show up for work to operate the Calais to Folkstone service. The company also said that it’s not taking anymore bookings for the journeys for Saturday, Sunday or Monday in a move aimed at easing the disruption.

French workers are pushing for Eurotunnel to give them an 8% rise in pay and, if not, they will start industrial action on Saturday. Over 100,000 people have booked more than 25,500 vehicles to be carried on the service to England from France during the three-day weekend. It’s expected that between 12,000 and 15,000 people have plans to travel to France from England. A Eurotunnel spokesman says the company is looking at possibly sending British workers to operate the terminal in France if need be. They still hope that all their services will run during the bank holiday.

News of the strike threat came as hundreds of passengers were told to get ready for significant service disruptions throughout a large portion of England on Friday. This was due to train drivers belonging to the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) and Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) unions holding a strike from 12:01am. However, the First TransPennine staff, who are seeking better pay, have delayed the action so that fresh talks can be held.

This follows the train drivers holding industrial action on Wednesday, disrupting the travel plans of thousands of passengers. Union members had voted for the strike after rejecting a 2.2% rise in pay. ASLEF’s Nick Whitehead says it’s good news they are returning to negotiations to start fresh. First TransPennine managing director Vernon Baker also believes this is good news for customers, whom he apologises to for the inconvenience earlier this week.

Furthermore, the French strike threat comes after rail passengers have been told to be prepared for disruption due to maintenance. Network Rail says that 1,700 more trains will operate this bank holiday than last year. Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) chief executive Michael Roberts says that 5.5 million are predicted to travel by rail during the weekend.

Aside from rail travel, road travel will be pretty busy as well, with the Automobile Association (AA) forecasting that up to 16 million cars could be on the roads for the holiday. Crowds of people will be flocking to sporting events and festivals, causing a build-up of traffic this afternoon. Plus, motorists have been advised to take special care while the drive. This follows a survey from Brake, the safety charity, and Direct Line insurance finding that 71% of people aren’t as focused on the road as they were a year ago. The groups say the decline in concentration is due to inconsiderate road users, tension at home or job worries.

 

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