With the news of a planned demonstration the Calais area this weekend, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) says the action is likely to raise concerns of another summer of discontent in and around the French port.
FTA has been alerted to the possibility of disruption caused by a demonstration due be held on 7 May, and is concerned that this could be the beginning of yet another season of disturbance for the freight and logistics industry.
Last summer industrial action and increased migrant activity cost the sector an estimated £21 million due to delays, cancelled sailings and interrupted Eurotunnel crossings.
Chris Yarsley, FTA’s EU Affairs Manager, said: “The economic importance of the Port of Calais must not be overlooked – it is a vital trade link which handles £89 billion worth of UK trade every year. Disruption caused by demonstrations and the thousands of migrants camped out near the motorway leading into the port can’t be allowed to happen again.
“FTA is concerned about a return to the disruption witnessed last summer in the Calais area, and is once again planning to support the freight and logistics industry should there be a repeat performance of scenes we saw last year in and around the French port.”
The Association – which represents more than 15,000 members – has persistently called for urgent action to tackle the problems at the Port of Calais, and introduced a five-point action plan earlier this year which they urged both the UK and French authorities to adopt. FTA submitted the plan to David Cameron, and encouraged hauliers to sign up the Border Force’s Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme to help avoid financial penalties if migrants are found on board their vehicles.
Yarsley added: “Road transport companies and their drivers must secure vehicles coming into the UK to ensure they don’t unwittingly enable stowaways to avoid border controls. FTA is encouraging its members to join the Civil Penalty Accreditation Scheme to help protect their drivers and avoid attacks on their vehicles.”