I do hope that all’s well that ends well, or Tout est bien qui finit bien as they might put it in France (I’m advised…!).
On the very last day of August, after months of grief for innocent passengers, goods drivers, port officials and other businesses, a deal was reached to save hundreds of former MyFerryLink jobs at Calais.
Obstructive acts by the demonstrating crews, to the Tunnel as well as other shipping companies, and the continuing occupation of Berlioz and Rodin blocking use of two terminals, have greatly exacerbated the ability of the Calais and French Authorities to deal with the parallel problem of thousands of migrants milling around the port.
Apparently 487 jobs were under threat in France – presumably the 70 or so UK based shoreside jobs have just gone the usual UK way, where the redundant are left to find their next wage wherever they can. On the face of it this looks like a good deal for the French ferry workers. Where previously DFDS were to take on just 200 or so under this deal Eurotunnel and DFDS combined will take 402 workers and will pay an “indemnity”, ie additional compensation over the normal redundancy rate, to any left jobless on Jan 1, 2016.
I can see several stumbling blocks in this but if an enforceable agreement is in place maybe everyone is indeed too sick of the years of argument and confrontation. They can perhaps decide that a fresh start and lasting peace is required for everyone concerned. And DFDS will receive their extra ships and they will instantly become a much bigger player in the Dover-Calais corridor knowing they only have the Tunnel and P&O for competition. That looks like a long term profi table future for all concerned, though possibly higher prices for users.
The role of the freight ship Nord Pas de Calais possibly still under Eurotunnel control has still to be clarified. But all in all it does look like a clever compromise, for now, and the French Minister for Transport deserves credit for helping fi nd the solution. I hope the deal sticks. We shall see.
I hope all the friendly crew I met aboard Berlioz a couple of years ago are happy with the outcome. I suspect not a few of them will already have taken jobs elsewhere. The ships are supposed to be in DFDS’s hands as of now. Though the first job will be to assess how much serious damage and vandalism, even sabotage, has been infl icted on the ships.