Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 18:00 UK

Striking SeaFrance workers hit cross-Channel ferries

Passengers at the ferry terminal in Dover
Passengers have been urged to stay away from the Port of Dover

Striking French ferry workers are causing major disruption at the Port of Dover.

SeaFrance crossings between Dover and Calais have been severely affected after CFDT union members walked out on Friday over new working practices.

Operation Stack - where lorries waiting to cross the Channel park on the M20 in Kent - was lifted on Friday evening following its introduction at 1030 BST.

SeaFrance urged passengers to stay away from the Port of Dover.

The industrial action is expected to last for 48 hours.

'Travel virtually impossible'

Robin Wilkins, managing director of SeaFrance, said: "This is a very, very short notice strike which has blown up this morning.

"We are very, very sorry for the affect on our passengers but the advice is unless you have a booking with another company then you should not travel today."

He added: "I think it's a disastrous and very regrettable decision, calculated to have the maximum affect on customers.

Lorries queuing at the Port of Dover
The strike is expected to last for 48 hours

"Travelling today is virtually impossible, the port is extremely busy. This is one of the busiest times of the year. We were close to being very fully booked.

"Our competitors are also very fully booked so there really is no option for people to travel today unless they have a booking or can obtain a booking with one of the other companies."

Kent Police said Operation Stack, which aims to ease traffic congestion at the port, had been lifted for the time being.

A spokesman said: "The barriers are still in place on the coastbound carriageway, meaning traffic is being brought off at junction 11 for Hythe, but it can go up the slip road and then back onto the M20 and continue on towards Folkestone and Dover.

"Police are monitoring the situation. The barriers remain in place in case Operation Stack has to be restarted."

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