P&O Ferries: Sailings Suspended For Up To 10 Days To ‘find New Crew’ – Follow Live
Employment lawyer says sacking of 800 people ‘beggars belief’
P&O Ferries suspends sailings but denies liquidation reports
P&O Ferries is suspending sailings for the next seven to 10 days, according to the parliamentary under-secretary for transport, Robert Courts.
He called the decision to sack 800 staff with immediate effect “wholly unacceptable”.
The company defended the mass redundancies, saying it’s losing £100m a year. “In its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business,” said a spokesperson.
“As part of the process we are starting today, we are providing 800 seafarers with immediate severance notices and will be compensating them for this lack of advance notice with enhanced compensation packages.”
Mr Courts said P&O had told him it would halt sailings for seven to 10 days while it recruited new seafaring crew, adding: “I am extremely concerned and frankly angry at the way workers have been treated.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the treatment of workers was “disgusting”.
“It just makes my blood boil. It is a complete betrayal of the workforce. It’s just disgusting,” he told BBC Radio Humberside.
Meanwhile, the RMT union is threatening legal action against the firm, calling yesterday’s move one of the “most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations”.
Read on for the latest news and developments.
Pride of Hull boarded by new eastern European crew
The Pride of Hull ferry has been boarded by members of a new eastern European crew, according to Billy Jones, branch secretary for Humber Shipping for the RMT.
“They [the agency crew] still have no right to sail the ship unless they are cleared by the MCA (Maritime and Coastguard Agency),” Mr Jones told The Yorkshire Post last night.
“There’s still a P&O crew on board, a skeleton crew to make sure they don’t take the ship away.”
Mr Jones described P&O’s actions as “almost the end of the British maritime industry”.
Yesterday, the Pride of Hull ferry captain – thought to be Dutchman Eugene Favier – was hailed as a hero for drawing up the gangplanks and sealing his crew into their vessel for five hours.
The crew eventually left the ship shortly after 4pm yesterday.
The Labour MP for East Hull, Karl Turner, this morning tweeted: “P&O’s decision yesterday to sack the crew of the Pride of Hull and on other ships up and down the country, without warning, notice, or consultation, is downright disgusting.
“The people of Hull no longer have pride in that ship or company.”
Lucy Thackray18 March 2022 09:50
Chamber of Shipping ‘confident’ ferries can operate safely with new agency staff
Peter Aylott, director of policy at the UK Chamber of Shipping, has said he is “confident” that the agency workers hired by P&O Ferries to replace its seafarers will operate ships safely.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m content and very confident that P&O will have put procedures in place to ensure that the individuals that are going to be in control of those vessels will be familiar with the ships, familiar with the systems and will be competent and qualified to operate those vessels in a safe manner.”
Trade union Nautilus International, which represents some of those fired, have urged the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to “make sure the ships are safe” as the new crews are “unfamiliar” with the vessels and routes.
Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson told the Today programme it was “an intensely worrying situation” as sailing ships across the Channel is “like walking across a six-lane motorway at rush hour”.
Lucy Thackray18 March 2022 09:33
Redundancy ‘cuts even deeper for seafarers’
The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder, spent Thursday in Dover as the unprecedented story of P&O Ferries’ mass redundancy emerged.
He writes: “Hundreds of families depend for their livelihoods on jobs with the leading ferry operator between Dover and Calais. The impact is all the more painful at a time of soaring energy prices and a bitter economic climate. But a sudden sacking, online, cuts even deeper for seafarers.
“Being a member of crew on a ship has little in common with work on land. Many sacked staff told me that working on board means living on board, with a degree of dedication and camaraderie that is rarely found on land.
“People who work on ferries have chosen a lifestyle. When they lose those jobs, they lose much more than just wages: they lose their on-board family.
“‘Devastated’ was the word used more than any other on Thursday in Dover.”
Simon Calder18 March 2022 09:17
‘Woken from my bunk and told to leave the ship because I was about to be made redundant’
Seafarers who were abruptly sacked on Thursday morning have been sharing their stories about how they heard the news. They do not wish to be named because a condition of the redundancy terms is that they do not speak to the media.
One long-serving crew member said he had been working nights, which meant that he was sleeping as normal at 11am, whereupon he was woken in his cabin and told to leave the ship immediately.
Once ashore, he learnt his decades-long career was over.
Simon Calder18 March 2022 08:52
‘Not something government can stop’ says armed forces minister
The government is unable to prevent P&O sacking 800 seafarers and replacing them with cheaper agency staff, a minister has said.
Armed forces minister James Heappey said the company had behaved “disgracefully” but acknowledged the government was powerless to stop it.
“I think that is the reality,” he told BBC Breakfast.
“The government anger will mean very little to those who have been sacked. I do feel very sorry for those people.
“I do think P&O have behaved disgracefully and I wish that P&O had given the government and the unions more opportunity to engage with them to try to save those jobs.
“Ultimately, it is not something the government can stop P&O from doing. Now the focus will be on supporting those who have lost their jobs.”
Reporting by agencies.
Lucy Thackray18 March 2022 08:45
P&O has ‘dragged industrial relations down to a Dickensian level’ – Simon Calder
In his weekly travel email, The Independent’s travel correspondent, Simon Calder has deplored the way that “P&O Ferries has dragged industrial relations down to a Dickensian level”.
He predicts: “Travellers who seek escapes this summer to France, the Netherlands or Ireland [will be] voting with their credit cards. After all, there are plenty of alternative Channel, North Sea and Irish Sea crossings – which is one reason P&O Ferries found itself in this mess.
“The hyper-competitive travel industry is an easy way to lose lots of cash, especially on the short sea crossing to Calais. But cutting losses need not be so cruel.”
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Lucy Thackray18 March 2022 08:33
P&O Cruises: ‘We’re not P&O Ferries!’
Southampton-based P&O Cruises has been forced to clarify that is a separate company to P&O Ferries, which yesterday terminated 800 employees with immediate effect to save costs.
As cruise fans took to social media stating that they’d be boycotting the “P&O” brand, P&O Cruises – which has been owned by Carnival Corporation since 2003 – rushed to separate itself from the disgraced ferry operator.
“P&O Cruises is part of Carnival Corporation & PLC and as such is unrelated to P&O Ferries,” wrote its social media representatives.
In the 1840s, the cruise line was founded as part of the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O), but became the separate company P&O Princess Cruises in 2000, which merged with Carnival Corporation in 2003 to create Carnival Corporation & plc.
Lucy Thackray18 March 2022 07:50
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s travel liveblog, where we’ll be following all the latest news and developments.
Lucy Thackray18 March 2022 07:38
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