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SeaFrance strike enters fifth day

Industrial action over Easter weekend has cost the firm €1.25m - and will continue until at least 20.00 tonight.

SEAFRANCE has warned it could go bust by the end of this week if a strike by French ferry workers continues.

The cross-Channel operator has had to cancel its crossings between Dover and Calais today, for the fifth day running, because of the walkout called by the CFDT union.

The action disrupted thousands of holidaymakers' Easter travel plans and has lost the company €1.25m in what is traditionally one of the busiest weekends of the year, according to SeaFrance chairman Pierre Fa.

"This strike is a catastrophe for us," he told Le Parisien. "We were expecting 58,000 passengers for the Easter weekend and we have only been able to carry 4,000 of them.

"It's simple - if the strike does not stop by the end of this week, we will have to close."

The operator's three ships, which normally provide up to 19 crossings a day, have been stuck in the port at Calais since Friday.

Passengers are advised to arrive at the port at the usual time, where they will be transferred to the next available P&O service - although queues are likely.
SeaFrance lost €36m in 2009 and has lost a further €13m since the new year.

Management drew up an emergency plan to get the company back on its feet, involving 482 redundancies out of a total workforce of 1,580.

CFDT delegate Didier Cappelle said workers had lost a monthly bonus of between €60 and €100. The union is also protesting against a shortage of staff on-board, especially night-time crossings.

SeaFrance has set up a free phone number for travellers in France looking to cross the Channel - 0800 77 54 40.

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