French customs officers went on strike yesterday to demonstrate the effect a no-deal Brexit could have on border ports, causing kilometres of tailbacks.
According to a report in Le Parisien, the strikes were designed to “demonstrate what will happen with Brexit”, with long lines of trucks and traffic jams on the roads to the ferry terminals at Calais and Dunkirk. Footage of the traffic also shows migrants trying to board the stationary lorries.
Union leaders want more pay for the extra work customs officials will be required to do in the event of a no-deal, as well for the added risk to them in the event of such tailbacks.
CGT Union leader Philippe Bollengier said: “If the UK becomes a third country, there will be more in-depth checks. You have the full demonstration today of what will happen. It is estimated that the additional staff of 700 agents for the whole of France are insufficient.”
“There is a contradiction between what we are normally responsible for applying and trade policy.”
Any delays at the French border cause holdups for fresh produce imports to the UK. In November the Gilet Jaunes protests created delays on consignments arriving into Britain, leaving some wholesalers temporarily without stock.
Commenting on yesterday’s strikes, wholesaler Ed Bowers Burbank tweeted: “Bloody joke at Calais today. I’ve heard all the French customs officers in Coquelles went home at lunchtime.”
Isabelle Scherer wrote on Twitter: “Today French custom officers are fully applying the EU law. They want to give an idea of what’s going to happen after Brexit. Kilometers (sic) of traffic jam.”
Bollengier added: "There will be stronger controls. Today you have a demonstration of what is going to happen."