Port of Dover: Ferry services to and from Calais suspended as national strike action begins in France

Eurostar has also warned its services will be affected by the strike action

Ferry services to and from Calais are suspended on Thursday due to a national strike in France.

The Port of Dover its services will be suspended from 7am, with sailings expected to resume in the afternoon from 2pm. It said it is still open with services to Dunkirk running as normal”, but travellers should expect it and the local road network around Dover “will be busier than usual”.

In a statement, the company added: “Please plan ahead, allowing extra time for your journey and traffic systems that are in place to minimise delays. Calais sailings are expected to resume at approximately 2pm UTC from Dover.”

Ferry services to and from Calais are suspended on Thursday (Photo: Getty Images)Ferry services to and from Calais are suspended on Thursday (Photo: Getty Images)
Ferry services to and from Calais are suspended on Thursday (Photo: Getty Images)

P&O Ferries said it has produced an “optimised” sailing schedule in light of the 24-hour strike – known as the National Day of Action in France. The ferry company also warned that due to a “lack of details”, it “cannot anticipate the level of disruption” that could still affect its changed sailing schedule.

P&O Ferries said: “We have received information of a National Day of Action in France planned to last over a 24-hour period, starting on the 19th January 2023. It is expected that this action will affect multiple outlets and services throughout France.”

The company added: “Due to the lack of details, we cannot anticipate the level of disruption this will have to our optimised schedule, and it is possible that our wider operations could be affected throughout the day.

“Please be assured that we will attempt to limit this disruption wherever possible; however, if your journey is not essential, we do advise that you rearrange your travel to an alternative date.”

Eurostar has also said its services would be affected by the general strike in France, and it would be running a “revised timetable” on Thursday and Friday (19 and 20 January). Passengers have been told to check if their train has been cancelled.

Why are workers striking in France?

The national strike in France is an attempt to derail planned pension reforms that would see the retirement age pushed up by two years to 64.

French workers angry over the proposed changes are halting high-speed trains, disrupting electricity supplies and taking to the streets in a day of nationwide strikes and protests seen as a major test for Emmanuel Macron and his presidency.

In a country with an ageing population and growing life expectancy where everyone receives a state pension, Mr Macron’s government says the reform is the only way to keep the system solvent.

Unions argue the pension overhaul threatens hard-fought rights and propose a tax on the wealthy or more payroll contributions from employers to finance the pension system.

More than 200 rallies are expected around France on Thursday, including one in Paris involving all France’s unions. A majority of trains around France are cancelled, including some international connections, according to the SNCF national state-owned railway company, and around 20% of flights out of Paris’s Orly Airport are cancelled as airlines warn of delays.

Electricity workers pledged to reduce power supplies as a form of protest and some 70% of nursery and primary school teachers said they would refuse to work, according to French media reports. Student unions are also expected to join the protests by blocking access to some schools.

The French government is formally presenting the pension Bill on Monday (23 January) and it heads to Parliament next month.