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Lorries roll on despite dispute

12th January 1985
Page 5
Page 5, 12th January 1985 — Lorries roll on despite dispute
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

THE FRENCH seamen's dispute affecting Sealink ferries is causing few delays at Dover for operators crossing to the Continent, according to the Dover Harbour Board.

The seaman are in dispute with the French state railway, SNCF, which owns the French end of Sealink. The port authorities at Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk are refusing entry to Sealink ferries for fear of civil disorder.

British hauliers have been switching to other ferry operators (or routes), incurring increased costs, as the dispute shows little sign of ending.

Sealink UK has contested that it is being treated unfairly — all other ferry operators are moving freely now into the ports — and has threatened to take its case to the European Commission.

Freight Transport Association international executive Dave Green told CM: "Operators are used to having their international trade disrupted — it has almost become an occupational hazard". He said operators using Sealink were successfully swopping to other companies such as Townsend Thoresen and P and 0, or using Sealink to go via the Belgium ports. But this was causing extra incon

venience and expense.

Sealink's Dover movements assistant Derek Bright told CM that to cope with the problems it has increased freight capacity on the Dover/Folkestone-Ostend services. The Dover-Ostend route had had its capacity doubled he said.

Mr Bright said that there were local talks going on at the French ports affected, but he could not see an end to the dispute very quickly.

But he recommended operators to telephone Sealink's Dover Eastern docks if they wanted more services put on to take them to Ostend.

• Sealink was due to re-introduce its service from Dover to Boulogne from January 1, but the French dispute has ruled this out for the present. The Champs Elysses which is to run the service is on strike.

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