Anyone travelling around Kent or through St Pancras International in the last couple of days can’t have failed to notice the traffic chaos we have currently. This is due to the industrial action on the French side of the channel.
The action is from MyFerryLink unhappy with the sale of the business (or part of it) to DFDS Seaways. MyFerryLink employs 600 people, DFDS will transfer about 200. However this isn’t a simple deal that is due to greedy employers trying to improve profits and shed workers. This is a complicated story that started in 2012….
SeaFrance went into liquidation. EuroTunnel bought two vessels from SeaFrance and leased them back to a workers co-operative set up by the old SeaFrance employees. However after much legal wrangling etc. the UK Govt Competition Commission decided that Eurotunnel owning these vessels and the tunnel significantly posed a risk to competition on the cross channel routes. So Eurotunnel was forced to find a buyer for the ships. DFDS has arrived at the last minute, no doubt as the price had to drop, to buy them. But they already run 20 salings a day on the route so have all the infrastructure, they just want the ships for extra capacity and the crews.
Hang on… how’s this helped competition? Buggered if I know frankly we now have one less operator on the ferries and 400 people out of work and so angry they pretty much have paralysed the entire cross channel transport system for days with the knock on that we now have miles of motorway out of action with hundreds of lorries parked up.
The whole thing is a shambles. UK blames France for not keeping law and order but this whole situation is of the UK’s making in that this is only happening as we were increasing competition… if anyone can figure out how please let me know as I’m baffled.
Today then sees the long awaited result of the independent commissions report on airport expansion in South East UK. How much time and money have we spent on getting the answer we all knew we would… i.e. we need another runway at Heathrow. The bit though that I still don’t get is when I look at the map showing this it goes right over the most congested part of the M25. I dread to face the years of more nonsense as they work around that one. No doubt somewhere down the line someone will say “Oh, we never factored in the rebuilding of a stretch of the busiest motorway in Europe in our plans… of look another £multibillion bill…”
Is it just me or would you be better off giving these decisions to a group of sixth formers on a gap year? At least they’d give you a quick answer, probably with some forethought about the potential long term ramifications.