BREXIT đŸ‡ȘđŸ‡ș🇬🇧: Traffic jams as French customsđŸ‡«đŸ‡· officials strike

Publié: 6 mars 2019 dans Informations gĂ©nĂ©rales

CALAIS, France

Long traffic jams formed Monday at French Channel ports after customs officers staged a work-to-rule strike to press demands for extra staff and more pay ahead of Britain’s departure from the EU.

Trucks were backed up several kilometres on roads leading to the ports of Calais and Dunkirk, an AFP reporter at the scene said, leading migrants seeking to get to Britain to try to board slow-moving vehicles.

« Customs officers are strictly applying the rules and reinforcing controls, » David-Olivier Caron, an official from the CFDT union, said.

Some 300 customs officers are employed in Calais, and about 60 in Dunkirk, he said, adding that the work-to-rule operation was open-ended.

Trade unions want an increase in overnight pay, a danger allowance, and more staff to help with the extra work once Britain leaves the European Union, in theory at the end of the month.

The French government has announced the recruitment of an extra 700 customs officials, a number seen as insufficient by some unions.

Once Britain has left the EU « there will be stronger controls. Today you have a demonstration of what is going to happen, » said Philippe Bollengier from the CGT union.

« Management is asking us to keep traffic flowing regardless of our duties so as not to interfere with inter-state commerce, » he added.

The terms of Britain’s departure from the EU are still being worked out ahead of a Brexit deadline of March 29, although an extension to that date is now seen as likely.

The leader of the Hauts-de-France region, which includes Calais and Dunkirk, told AFP last month that fears about monster traffic jams after Brexit were overblown.

« From our point of view, for the ports and the tunnel, we will be ready, » Xavier Bertrand told AFP.

But Vincent Thomazo, a customs official from the Unsa union, said: « They are asking us for a very, very big effort and it’s going to be a big effort to reintroduce a border with very little extra help. »

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