Britons faced chaos in Calais last night after striking French sailors blocked the port for the second time in a week. Ferry services between Dover and Calais were cancelled again on Tuesday as MyFerryLink workers blockaded the French port.
Strike action by around 400 workers last week led to major traffic jams of lorries, prompting migrants around the port to try to stow away on trucks bound for Britain.
Unlike last week’s industrial action, which saw Eurostar and Eurotunnel also forced to cancel services, only ferry crossings are currently affected.
"Right now the action is concentrated on the port," said Eric Vercoutre, head of the main maritime union organizing the industrial action, without ruling out wider action in the days ahead.
The strikes – which would be illegal in Britain – led ferry firms to cancel crossings for today and the blockade is expected to last for the rest of the week.
Hundreds of hard-liners and flying pickets from the Maritime Nord union have descended on Calais in a dispute over job losses.
Crossings to Dunkirk and other French ports continue as normal.
Eurotunnel, which owns MyFerryLink’s three vessels and markets its services via an affiliate, announced recently that it would not be renewing its contract with SCOP Seafrance which is due to expire on Thursday.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin chaired an emergency Cobra meeting, and said: "We're looking at the situation and working with the French government."
In an update in the early hours of Tuesday morning, ferry operator P&O said none of its vessels would be sailing in or out of Calais and advised passengers to rebook for another date.
MyFerryLink said all its Calais crossings were cancelled, but advised car passengers to check in as normal in order to be transferred to the Eurotunnel service.