Strike forces 500 mile trek
12:40pm Friday 5th October 2012 in News
A Falmouth and Penryn Lions Club member was forced to drive more than 500 miles through France without a map after getting caught up in the Brittany Ferries strike.
Fundraising chairman Roger Phillips had been on holiday with his wife Hilary and their friend Rosemary Tebbutt in Audierne, Brittany when French crew members began strike action, the day before they were due to sail home, from Roscoff to Plymoth.
At 11am on their return date Roger contacted Brittany Ferries, only to be told there was no ferry for them to sail on.
He was given three options: wait until the following day to cross from Roscoff, drive to Cherbourg and cross to Portsmouth, or drive to Calais and return to Dover on a P&O ferry.
With Calais more than 500 miles away and the Cherbourg ferry due to leave within half an hour, Roger and his party decided to spend another day in Audierne and sail by the 8am ferry the following day.
Yet that same evening Roger received a text from Brittany Ferries to say all sailings had been cancelled and the only choice was to drive to Calais or sit it out.
This saw the party of three leaving Audierne at 6.30am, enroute for Calais.
With no map in the car – as Roger knew Brittany so well already – it was down to a French friend to hastily put together a list of the major cities they would need to travel through to get there and some careful attention paid to road signs.
They arrived more than ten hours later and finally, after 13 hours of travelling, the trio arrived back on UK shores, at Dover. Having spent the night in Reading returned to Cornwall two days later than planned.
Despite the disruption Roger said he had “no gripe” with Brittany Ferries, adding: “They [crew members] had gone on strike and there was nothing the company could do. They were as accommodating as they could be.”
Brittany Ferries has promised to pay Roger’s extra expenses caused by the delay and increased travel.
Sailing to and from France and Spain was cancelled for 12 days, only resuming yesterday (Tuesday), due to the strike action by French crew members, which it is understood are due to proposals to withdraw workers’ allowances and change their working hours.
The only service not affected was the Poole-Cherbourg passenger service, operated on Brittany Ferries’ behalf by Condor Ferries.
Brittany Ferries said on its website last week: “Brittany Ferries very much regrets the effect the disruption will have on our customers but is hopeful that a resolution will be found soon, as discussions with the unions are on-going.”