British freight organisations are warning of job losses among truck drivers if the migrant meltdown currently engulfing the French port of Calais continues much longer.
There are thought to be around 5,000 desperate clandestines massed around Calais, all frantically searching for a way to reach the UK, many of whom have fled civil wars and domestic political upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa.
The migrants are attempting night after night to either break into UK-bound freight lorries at the French port or stow under or on top of trains using the Le Shuttle services through the Channel Tunnel.
The issue is already straining relations between the UK and French governments, with many viewing British Prime Minister, David Cameron being hamstrung as he is currently trying to woo Paris’ favour in a bid to secure a favourable renegotiation of European Union terms.
One knock-on effect has been to affect the UK automotive supply chain, with some just-in-time operations having to be scaled back, but the Freight Transport Association (FTA) is also warning its members’ livelihoods are at stake.
“We have had members who are saying we are really finding survival of the business difficult and if they go on, there is a real possibility we might have to park up a proportion of the lorries and drivers could lose their jobs,” FTA manager international affairs department, Donald Armour, told just-auto.
“What is he [driver] supposed to do if he finds migrants? One driver against 20 migrants is not very fair.
“The reason [s] for these problems [are]; the demise of MyFerryLink – we have strikers who are sometimes blocking the entrance to Calais; we have migrants who are causing mayhem – 5,000 there – [while] the final part is the holiday season – peak holiday on top of everything else.”
The UK Road Haulage Association is also calling for France to deploy military forces to Calais in order to protect both the lives of lorry drivers and migrants.
“It has become clear the French authorities in Calais simply cannot cope,” said RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett. “This has become an untenable situation and is obviously now beyond the capabilities of the French police. The RHA strongly repeats its request, made in June, for deployment of the French military to contain, segregate and control the migrant threat.
We would also ask that the UK Government provides additional support if requested to do so by the French.
“Lives of migrants and HGV drivers are being put at risk. The Government has a duty of care to all British citizens – let that care be shown to the UK hauliers who ask no more than to be able to perform their job of moving the UK economy safely and securely.”