Strikes cause port delays for coach passengers

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Coach operators reported significant delays to journeys heading into the UK as a result of strikes by UK Border Force staff at the ports of Calais, Dunkirk and Dover plus the Coquelles channel tunnel terminal.

The Home Office had warned of potential delays, and some coach passengers found themselves waiting for up to six hours to pass through passport controls, with a high number of homeward-bound coaches carrying children on half term school trips reported to have been caught in the queues. Ferry operator P&O advised passengers via its social media channels to use the toilet before arriving at the port and to be prepared with refreshments.

The four day strike, which took place from 17 to 21 February, was as a result of a pay dispute. The Home Office said it was working to minimise delays.

The staff are members of the Public and Commercial Services union. A spokesperson for the union said that they believed inexperienced staff were being brought in to cover for striking Border Force workers. General Secretary Mark Serwotka commented: “Ministers say their priority is security – it obviously isn’t. They say they have no money to give our hard-working members a fair pay rise, but then find money to pay non-striking workers a healthy bonus, to pay for their transport across the country and to pay for four nights’ hotel accommodation.

“If ministers were serious about security, they would resolve this dispute immediately by putting money on the table to ensure fully-trained, experienced professionals are guarding our borders.”

However, a Home Office spokesperson said during the action: “The queues at the Port of Calais today are not due to industrial action. Border Force operations there remain fluid with all booths open and no significant wait times. Border Force and port operators are working hard to ensure all travellers have a safe and secure journey, however we have been clear those entering the UK should expect disruption during strike action.”