Eurostar strike: Channel tunnel traffic to resume on Friday after workers end walkout

Wildcat strike by French employees disrupted Christmas travel plans and movement of goods

A train passes through the Channel tunnel in Coquelles, northern France. A strike by French workers has come to an end. EPA
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Traffic on the Channel tunnel is to resume following an agreement with unions, Eurotunnel said, after a strike by French workers caused disruption for most of Thursday.

Passenger trains will begin operating on Friday, while freight trains and the LeShuttle transport service for motor vehicles gradually resumed from Thursday night, Eurotunnel said in a statement.

The unexpected strike over bonus pay caused major disruptions on the busy London-Paris route as the peak Christmas holiday travel season got under way. Some trains had to return to the French capital just before reaching London, prompting the French government to call the industrial action unacceptable.

Getlink, the operator of the tunnel, said trade unions rejected a bonus payment of €1,000 ($1,097) announced by management, demanding that the amount be trebled after good traffic figures this year.

The tunnel operator is not covered by a 2007 French law that makes a 48-hour strike notice compulsory for transport operators, which is why the walkout took everyone by surprise.

“We would recommend postponing your journey if you can, even if it's until tomorrow,” Eurostar said in a post on X, after the workers went on strike.

On its travel updates page, Eurostar said trains to and from London were cancelled.

"It's a bit of a pain, but there's not really much we can do about it," British tourist Corrina Lynn, who planned to travel to London from Paris, told Reuters.

"It's the stuff of nightmares that you really don't want to happen. But we're just going to have to deal with it and try to figure something out."

Updated: December 22, 2023, 6:32 AM