French strike causing delays for Cavan firm

Tuesday, 12th March, 2019 5:37pm

French strike causing delays for Cavan firm

Driver Fin Sheedy with his truck stuck at Calais.

A busy Irish haulage firm, who have up to 10 trucks at the French Port, Calais, at any one time says the current work-to-rule strike is costing them delays of at least a day.
One driver from Virginia International Logistics, Fin Sheedy, says he spent 22 hours in a queue of which he estimates were about 11,000 trucks trying to get through Calais last Friday.
The busy Calais to Dover port is backed up with lorries as French Customs Officers operate a go-slow protest, scheduled to operate until next Tuesday when union representatives are scheduled to meet budget Minister Gerald Darmanin. 
Customs officers claim that the delays are a Brexit snapshot of what is to come if Britain leave the EU without a deal on March 29.
The family-owned firm says the protest had caused the company problems. “My drivers tell me there were tailbacks of up to nine miles last week. I’ve 120 trucks and up to 10 of them are in Calais at any one time so it’s an important port to us,” said director Ray Cole. 
“We cover 12 million kilometers per year. We’ve been trying to divert many of the trucks to other ports in Holland but these are getting busier too, as other companies are making the same plan.
“We’re losing a day really. It’s easy getting out of the UK to Europe but getting back in is the problem. Delays here then have the knock-on effect of further delays from the UK to Ireland,” he further explained.
Driver Fin Sheedy, who was transporting pharmaceuticals, said trucks were leaving the queue even for a break or a rest and then rejoining.
“I arrived near Calais on Wednesday morning but got turned back by police because of the backlog so I took the statutory 45 minute rest period and then tried again.
“I spent 22 hours stuck in the queue but luckily most truck drivers are laid back and calm. We’re used to delays.
“The Customs were spending about five minutes with each truck checking everything and, when there is 11,000 trucks, that’s a lot of time wasted,” he said.
Mr Cole says the family-owned firm, which employs 180 people, have made plans for Brexit but says it is likely to cause headaches.
“Brexit is a big worry. We’ve opened an office in the UK to have a foot in both camps, if you like. 
“However, we deliver a lot of building providers materials into Northern Ireland so I don’t know what will happen there.”

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