Talks continue over strike which has shut down ferry service to Plymouth
TALKS continue between workers and directors at Brittany Ferries as passengers continue to seek alternative routes across the English Channel.
The firm said all crossings were cancelled for yesterday and today, while further crossings from Portsmouth to Caen were cancelled for tomorrow.
Brittany Ferries said meetings with union officials continued yesterday but as no agreement had yet been reached services remain suspended, except the Poole-Cherbourg passenger service, which was operated on Brittany Ferries' behalf by Condor Ferries.
As a result the firm said it has had to cancel sailings to and from France and Spain.
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In response to The Herald's article on Friday, which noted how 27-year-old Amy Newell, from Plympton and her friend Victoria Joint suffered a 20-hour drive to get home from Spain after the Santander ferry was cancelled, the firm offered its apologies.
A spokesman for Brittany Ferries said: "Whilst accepting that we did not give as much notice as we would have liked – because right up until Tuesday afternoon we were hopeful that the service would operate – the report, unfortunately, gives the impression that Brittany Ferries made no attempt to help them.
"We have, in fact, tried to be as helpful as possible to all customers affected by processing refunds as quickly as possible, making arrangements with P&O Ferries and MyFerryLink to provide a free crossing from Calais to Dover, plus making a contribution towards petrol costs – based on UK Government mileage allowances – from the port of departure, in this case Santander, to Calais.
"Clearly a non-stop drive from Spain to France can be an unpleasant experience and for some of our more elderly passengers it was not even an option.
"For them we have held on to their cars in Santander so that we can ship them to the UK when we resume operations, and arranged air travel back, with transfers to and from airports.
"We also have 'care teams' at Calais and Dover to assist passengers and have set up a 'Tweet Centre' that operates from 7am to 11pm daily to answer urgent tweet enquiries.
"In fact, between Sunday and Tuesday last week we sent Victoria no fewer than 14 personal tweets.
"Contrast this with the treatment given by low cost airlines who would have simply said: 'Here's your refund and now you're on your own'. This is how air passengers were left stranded in Europe during the ash cloud crisis when we helped many people return to the UK.
"Obviously this industrial dispute has inconvenienced thousands of people, particularly those in the west country, because it is a long way to Dover and for this we are very sorry.
"We are acutely aware that our reputation has taken a knock but we are doing our utmost to ameliorate this by having all our shore-based staff working flat out to provide the best help we can to our customers in these very difficult circumstances. "The unexpected number of complimentary emails, letters and tweets seem to indicate that we are doing reasonably well in this regard."