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French customs agents striking over Brexit reject govt offer

Trucks backed up along the motorway which leads to the port of Calais and the entrance to the Channel tunnel which links France and Britain
Trucks backed up along the motorway which leads to the port of Calais and the entrance to the Channel tunnel which links France and Britain AFP/File
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Paris (AFP)

French customs officials striking for better pay and more staff, for the extra work expected with Brexit, turned down an offer of 14 million euros from the government on Wednesday, saying it was not enough.

The work-to-rule strike has caused traffic havoc over the last 10 days at the port of Calais and the entrance to the Channel tunnel which links France and Britain.

By early evening on Wednesday the line of trucks waiting to get to England through the tunnel had stretched to four kilometres (2.5 miles), the local prefecture said.

The customs agents are demanding an increase in overnight pay, a danger allowance, and more staff and resources to help with greater controls that will be put in place once Britain breaks away from the European Union, currently scheduled in just over two weeks.

But the French unions representing the around 17,000 workers rejected the 14 million-euro ($15.8 million) budget boost offered by the government as it was "not sufficient compared to the agent's demands," Jean-Marc Jame of the CFDT union told AFP.

"When divided by the number of agents, there is not much left," he said.

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