Brittany Ferries strike ends

CLOSURE A Brittany Ferries booth at Portsmouth International Ferry Port. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (123191-8278)
CLOSURE A Brittany Ferries booth at Portsmouth International Ferry Port. ''Picture: Sarah Standing (123191-8278)
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage.

Picture: Steve Reid

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A STRIKE by Brittany Ferries staff has been called off.

A wildcat strike has taken place by more than 1,200 crew members over proposals to withdraw allowances and change working hours.

But today the company, which operates routes to France and Spain from Portsmouth, has confirmed the strike was off.

Eight ferries have been laid up in French ports since the firm shut down its services on 21 September in response to the strike. It is believed services will resume on Tuesday afternoon.

The agreement to end the strike comes as The News revealed the industrial action has cost Portsmouth’s port around £400,000 in lost revenue.

Protesting workers have caused havoc for industry and tourists.

The company pays berth fees and other money to Portsmouth International Port for the right to dock, and as the port is owned by the city council, it is the public purse that is missing out as the ships sit idle in France.

The ferries have been tied up in France since wildcat strikes began more than a week ago, as crews protest over changes to their working conditions as the ferry company looks at ways to make ends meet.

Despite the action, and the threat to its business, Brittany Ferries has said there is no risk of it leaving Portsmouth.

The cross channel ferry company has been making a loss for about three years, mainly due to unfavourable exchange rates.

To try to stay afloat, the firm planned to cut pay but increase working hours for its crew.

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock said: ‘This has had a dramatic effect on Portsmouth. We’ve lost out already on upwards of £400,000 in berthing fees and everything else.

‘You can’t put a figure on the amount of tourism money we’ve lost.’

A spokesman said: ‘Portsmouth is our most important port and will remain so. We have strong reserves to allow us to weather this storm.’

Portsmouth International Port’s manager, Martin Putman, said: ‘Brittany Ferries is the major ferry operator at Portsmouth International Port.

‘The current cancellation of services is affecting our income, however we are trying to reduce any impact by tailoring our services to meet the remaining demand from other operators.

‘LD Lines continues to serve freight operators and passengers travelling to France. The Condor service to the Channel Islands also continues unaffected.

‘We will not be able to quantify the financial effect of the reduction in ferries until the situation returns to normal.’

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