Competition body’s key role in ferry strike | Letters

Virtually no explanation has been given in the media for the strikes by ferry staff in France, which caused so much chaos (Report, 30 June). Normally industrial action of this sort, especially in the UK, would have the likes of the Institute of Directors telling us the cost in millions before sunset. MyFerryLink workers are being made redundant by new owners DFDS. Only 200 of 600 have been offered posts. Some work in the UK. The culprit is here at home: the Competition and Markets Authority. Acting on complaints from DFDS and P&O, the CMA investigated the new ferry operator and found that, although it was a mutual, a SCOP (société coopérative) under French law, the capital had been provided by Eurotunnel. This was deemed not in the best interests of competition. The two mega shipping companies claimed that there was insufficient business for more than two operators on the Channel crossing and threatened to withdraw. The CMA accepted this and the duopoly continues. The same CMA recently ruled that one owner of all inter-city trains north from London poses no competition issues. Stagecoach and Virgin in partnership or a duopoly run all three services. Is it not time that the CMA was examined by the appropriate select committee? Meanwhile, the delay in shifting just 24 hours of ferry traffic following the last dispute suggests there is ample need of extra shipping capacity, and DFDS is buying the MyFerryLink ships. Was this purchase known to the CMA?
Leslie Freitag
London

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