French customs strike slows Eurostar traffic

Paris (AFP) –


Eurostar trains from Paris to London were running up to two hours late and trucks stacked up in Channel ports on Thursday as French customs officers staged the fourth day of a Brexit-related strike.

The customs officers are pressing demands for higher pay and better working conditions while seeking to demonstrate what might happen if full border controls are put in place once Britain leaves the European Union, as planned later this month.

Thursday was the first day that customs officers in Paris joined in the work-to-rule action.

"Ongoing disruptions are affecting all trains departing Paris-Nord (railway station) and can lead to delays of up to 120 minutes," Eurostar told AFP as customs' checks led to long queues of passengers waiting to board trains.

One train was cancelled.

The work-to-rule strikes, which began Monday, have led to long delays for trucks waiting to cross the Channel to Britain, notably in Dunkirk and Calais.

"Traffic is very heavy but it slowly moving and ferry services are working flat out," Calais port authorities said.

The flow of trucks using the Channel tunnel was back to its average of 150 trucks an hour, but "there are still a lot of trucks on the road" as local authorities had stopped them earlier at motorway service areas to avoid clogging traffic, officials said.

AFP correspondents said trucks were backed up several miles on the A16 motorway near Calais.

Customs officers are demanding "greater purchasing power, more staff and more help to deal with Brexit," Vincent Thomazo, a Unsa trade union representative told AFP.

The government minister in charge of customs, Gerald Darmanin, told AFP he would meet customs officers' representatives on Tuesday.