Schoolchildren stuck in Calais for hours amid strikes by Border Force staff
Children and teachers travelling back to the UK from school trips have been held up in Calais for more than six hours amid strikes by Border Force staff.
Members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union working at French ports took action on Friday following disputes over pay, pensions, and job security.
The strikes come during the February half-term holidays and are due to continue until Monday evening.
Several schools reported delays at Calais when returning from school trips on Saturday, while the children's parents voiced their complaints on social media.
One mother tweeted it had been a "gruelling trip" for her daughter, saying: "Thirty hour journey last week travelling to Austria due to delays and 23 hrs since leaving Austria they are still stuck at Calais! Arrived at about 10.30 this morning.
"Fingers crossed they can get on the 10.45pm! It's a good job she had a fab time!"
Another parent said: "Although I'm all for strike action, she (my daughter) is not coping well with the delay at Calais. Been travelling since 6pm yesterday and at Calais since noon."
Wellsway School in Bristol said its students had missed their scheduled ferry from Calais due to the long queues at passport control - an updated tweet said they had "left Calais" and would arrive in Dover at 11pm on Saturday.
A Home Office spokesperson said the queues at Calais today are "not due to industrial action" but down to port infrastructure and traffic.
"Border Force operations there remain fluid with all coach booths open and no significant wait times and we continue to work closely with port operators at a local and national level to minimise delays."
A PCS spokesperson sympathised with those delayed but said: "The blame lies squarely with the government.
"Rishi Sunak has had months to resolve this dispute but refuses to meet us. He can end the strikes tomorrow if he puts some money on the table."
The union is demanding a greater pay rise for its members, who were offered 2%, which was "unacceptable".
PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Ministers should be ashamed at how they treat their own workforce and until they come to the table with money for our members, our sustained, targeted campaign of strike action will continue."
P&O Ferries had tweeted that queues stretched to over six hours for coaches at Calais border control.
They told passengers to bring their own refreshments and that there were "limited toilet facilities" on site.
Cars were delayed by up to an hour at Calais earlier on Saturday, but had cleared by the evening.