Children returning from school trips delayed for six hours amid strikes in Calais | Industrial action

Children and teachers returning to the UK from half-term school trips suffered delays of more than six hours in Calais amid strikes by Border Force staff.

P&O Ferries told customers the long waiting times were due to “queues at border controls which are also on strike”, although the government rejected suggestions the industrial action had an impact on waiting times.

Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union working in Calais, Dunkirk, Dover and the Coquelles Channel Tunnel Terminal began strike action over pay on Friday, with industrial action set to continue until Monday morning.

Some schools reported delays returning from trips on Saturday as parents complained on social media that their children had been waiting in Calais for hours.

Some said their children were expected to board a ferry at 8.30am but were still on the French side by afternoon.

Teachers and students from Surrey returning from a ski trip to Austria waited six and a half hours to board a ferry back to the UK.

Wellsway School in Bristol tweeted that students returning from a ski trip missed their scheduled ferry from Calais due to long queues at passport control.

Langley Park Girls’ School in Bromley, south-east London, said they were making “very slow progress” at the port.

One mother tweeted that it had been an “exhausting journey” for her daughter, saying: “Thirty hour journey last week traveling to Austria due to delays and 23 hours since leaving Austria, still stuck in Calais! Arrived about 10.30 this morning.

“Fingers crossed they can make it to 10.45pm! Good job had a great time!”

DFDS Ferries said coach passengers should expect six-hour delays in Calais due to “high volumes of traffic”.

P&O Ferries said on Twitter: “There are still long queues of up to 6 hours 30 minutes at border control at Calais port for coaches. There are limited toilet facilities, we recommend stopping en route.

“Please come prepared with refreshments to make your wait more comfortable.”

Car traffic was delayed for up to an hour in Calais earlier on Saturday, but had cleared by evening.

ignore previous newsletter promotion

A PCS spokesman said: “While we sympathize with travelers experiencing delays, the responsibility lies with the government. Rishi Sunak has had months to resolve this dispute but refuses to meet us. He can end the strikes tomorrow if he puts some money on the table.

“Until he does, our strikes will continue because it is unacceptable that hard working public servants are being told to accept a pay rise of just 2% in a cost of living crisis when inflation is at 10%.

But the Home Office denied the strikes were causing delays.

A spokesman told the BBC: “The queues at Calais port today are not due to industrial action.

“Border Force operations remain fluid with all wards open and no significant waiting times.

“Border Force and port operators are working hard to ensure all travelers have a safe and secure journey, however we are clear those entering the UK should expect disruption during the strike.

“We continue to work closely with port operators locally and nationally to minimize delays.”

Leave a Comment