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French strikers close Channel Tunnel and stop ferries

MY_May_2009_Train_TunnelStriking French workers stopped ferries and Channel Tunnel trains from running yesterday. About 600 ferry company employees called the wildcat strike at 03:50 yesterday morning in protest over a proposal by MyFerryLink to sell two of its vessels to rival operator DFDS Seaways.
The strike forced the suspension of ferry services across the English Channel. The strikers expanded their blockade by burning old tyres and laying discarded pallets across rail tracks close to the entrance of the Channel Tunnel near Calais. 

These actions caused the operators of Eurotunnel and Eurostar transport services to suspend their services. The cancellation of the transport links between southeast England and northern France caused gridlocks near ports on both sides of the English Channel.

The chaos was exacerbated near Calais as migrants tried to force their way into lorries and vans stuck in the jams with the aim of sneaking across to the UK. Freight Transport Association manager Donald Armour said there was real concern that somebody was going to get hurt as migrants jostled for positions to get on the lorries.

At London’s St Pancras Station, the situation was not much better last night. Hundreds of passengers who had been scheduled to leave for the continent on Eurostar trains during the day were forced to bed down on the concourse.

Those who were lucky enough to find accommodation in the vicinity reported that rates were quadruple that of the usual rack rates. The striking French workers said they would end their blockade last night and cross-channel and Eurotunnel transportation should be back to normal today.



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