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P&O Ferries makes 800 staff immediately redundant and cancels all sailings

Written by on 17th March 2022

P&O Ferries has made 800 of its staff redundant, effective immediately, and cancelled all its services for the next few days to plug a £100m year on year black hole in the company’s finances.

The company said these staff will be served with severance packages, calling it a “necessary decision” to protect its remaining 2,200 staff.
It said the business is “not viable” in its current state.

In a statement, the ferry operator said: “We have made a £100m loss year on year, which has been covered by our parent DP World. This is not sustainable. Our survival is dependent on making swift and significant changes now.
“Without these changes there is no future for P&O Ferries.”

Earlier, Labour MP Karl Turner posted a picture of cars waiting at King George Dock and said: “New foreign crew waiting to board the Pride of Hull on King George Dock. ?@RMTunion? sitting in onboard the vessel. They will not be boarding her. We understand that both current officers and ratings are to be sacked.”

Union members advised to stay on board
One union has advised all its members to stay on board.
Nautilus International general secretary Mark Dickinson said: “The news that P&O Ferries is sacking the crew across its entire UK fleet is a betrayal of British workers. It is nothing short of scandalous given that this Dubai owned company received millions of pounds of British taxpayer’s money during the pandemic.
“There was no consultation and no notice given by P&O. Be assured the full resources of Nautilus International stand ready to act in defence of our members. We believe it is in our members’ best interests to stay onboard until further notice.”
Lorry queues have begun to build up around Dover following the suspension of services.
A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said: “The DfT is working with the Kent Resilience Forum and all local partners to ensure the free flow of traffic in Kent.”

P&O denies liquidation
A spokesman for the firm said: “P&O Ferries is not going into liquidation.
“We have asked all ships to come alongside, in preparation for a company announcement.
“Until then, services from P&O will not be running and we are advising travellers of alternative arrangements.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson described it as a “live situation” with “work ongoing today with partners and the Department for Transport.”

‘No one helping at port’ says passenger
P&O Ferries wrote on Twitter that those hoping to travel will be guided to an alternative operator with services “unable to run for the next few hours”.
Morgan Ryan told Sky News he arrived at Larne with his family for the 8am sailing to Cairnryan – having been up since 4am – when they noticed people being turned away.
“We got to the front of the queue and a P&O staff member informed us all services had been suspended. She didn’t know why, only that they’d been told all operations were suspended at 7.30am.
“Annoyingly, we were directed to Belfast and assured that all bookings had been rearranged with Stena and that we’d be on the 11.30am crossing with them.
“Of course, when we got there they had no knowledge of any arrangement and had not received any contact from P&O. We had to fork out the fare again as we need to be in Glasgow today.”
Having paid €420 (£360) for the original booking, the family had to pay an additional £320 for the trip with Stena.
He said: “I tried P&O by phone, just hold music. Nobody on the ground helping or making arrangements for customers as stated in their tweets.”

Government ‘concerned’ at suspension
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said his officials will be having “urgent discussions” with P&O Ferries as he expressed concern at the suspension of sailings.
Mr Shapps replied: “I am concerned with this news which is breaking on P&O Ferries. I understand they have temporarily paused their operations and that’s causing disruption at the short straits – Calais-Dover – as well as some other ports.
“I’m working with the Kent Resilience Forum and I’ve just instructed them to become intricately involved and other partners in this, and we’ll be taking steps later today – including ensuring that my officials will be having urgent discussions with P&O about the situation, particularly of concern for their workers.”
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he would allow an “emergency statement” from the Government on Thursday if needed.

Follows 2020 warning
The company, which transports passengers and freight, is owned by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World.
It operates these four routes: Dover to Calais; Hull to Rotterdam; Liverpool to Dublin; and Cairnryan, Scotland, to Larne, Northern Ireland.
A route that previously operated between Hull and Zeebrugge, Belgium, was axed in January 2021.
Following the coronavirus outbreak, P&O Ferries warned in May 2020 that around 1,100 workers could lose their jobs as part of a plan to make the business “viable and sustainable”.