DFDS Seaways services between Dover and Calais remained suspended today after an incident on Saturday when a flare was fired at one of the boats.
“On Saturday night, one of our ferries was the target of distress flares, one of which struck our ferry,” said DFDS spokesperson Gert Jakobsen. “After these incidents and due to safety concerns for our staff, our ships and our passengers, we have decided to suspend our service to Calais until further notice.”
DFDS runs 10 crossings a day each way between Dover and Calais.
The company purchased two MyFerryLink ships and said that it will not retain all of the staff. The ferries have been occupied by MyFerryLink workers who have refused to hand them over until a deal is stuck.
Angry employees have blocked traffic with burning tires. French police have used harsh methods, including tear gas, to break up the blockades.
Jakobsen said that it is unclear who fired the flares.
“We believe that it is an isolated incident committed by a single person,” he said. “This has been a process marked by intense emotions.”
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Traffic has been diverted to Dunkirk in northern France from Calais about 40 kilometres away. The crossing time is about 30 minutes longer.
Eurotunnel, the company behind My Ferry Link, was forced to stop its ferry operations because they had a near monopoly on the crossing.
The approximately 480 French employees were employed by an employee-owned company hired to supply labor to the two ferries. The union fears that the 120 employees risk of losing their job now that DFDS will be responsible for operating the ferries.
Jakobsen said that talks will take place in Paris today between DFDS, the striking employees and the French government.
“There are several solutions on the table,” he said.
The area around Calais in northern France has one of the highest unemployment rates in that country.