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P&O Ferries news LIVE – Crew clash with drivers and Brits left stranded in France after company suddenly sacks 800 staff

P&O Ferries has sparked outrage after sacking 800 staff on the spot – leaving Brits stranded in France amid a string of cancelled services.

P&O employees were ambushed this morning via Zoom and reportedly given just “five minutes to get their stuff and get off the ship”.

The company has confirmed all 800 staff will be made redundant with immediate effect to plug a £100million black hole.

Many of those fired were refusing to leave ships, leading to security guards with handcuffs being deployed to remove them.

The ferry operator, bought by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World in 2019, insisted the decision to cut jobs was “very difficult but necessary” as it was “not a viable business” in its current state.

Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) general secretary Mick Lynch said: “We are receiving reports that security guards at Dover are seeking to board ships with handcuffs to remove crew so they can be replaced with cheaper labour.

“We are seeking urgent legal action and are again calling for the Government to take action to stop what is fast turning into one of the most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations.”

Read our P&O live blog below for the latest updates and information…

  • Significant disruption over next few days, says P&O

    On Thursday, March 17, 2022, P&O announced via its website that there would be “significant disruption” over the next few days.

    The company maintained that those travelling on the Dover to Calais route should arrive at ports as planned where alternative transport could be arranged.

    However some travellers were still left stranded in Calais and Dover.

  • Starmer brands P&O’s treatment of fired workers ‘disgusting’

    Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the treatment of 800 seafarers sacked by P&O 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.

    “This is a company that had furlough during the Covid crisis. It is absolutely disgusting what they are trying to do. They mustn’t be allowed to get away with it.

    “I just wish the Government had done what we said and strengthened employment rights so they couldn’t do this kind of thing.

    “The Government said it was going to deal with this sort of situation. It hasn’t done it.”

  • Labour calls mass firing ‘scandalous’

    Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “This scandalous action shows sheer contempt for the workforce.

    “Unscrupulous employers cannot be given free rein to sack workers and replace them with agency staff.”

    P&O Ferries said in a statement: “In its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business.

    “We have made a £100 million 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.”

  • Dover MP says P&O ‘has put the economy at risk’

    The Conservative MP for Dover, Natalie Elphicke, said P&O has put the economy at risk, while a transport minister said the company’s actions were “unacceptable”.

    She told the Commons: “The way in which P&O Ferries and DP World have acted is shabby, disgraceful and utterly unacceptable. They have mistreated 600 loyal workers in Dover, and in addition to this they have brought traffic disruption and put at risk the economy and the trade routes through it.”

    Transport minister Robert Courts said her constituents will be “anguished, hurt, distraught at the news that they have been given today”.

    He added: “She asks me do I agree that the way P&O have behaved is unacceptable. Yes, it’s unacceptable.”

  • Pride of Hull crew leave ship after standoff with P&O ends

    The crew of the Pride of Hull are leaving the ship after a standoff with P&O came to an end.

    RMT organiser for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire Gaz Jackson said the crew were “absolutely devastated” and described P&O’s actions as “unacceptable” and “unforgivable”.

    He told reporters at King George Dock in Hull: “I got a phone call at 8am saying something was going to happen at P&O, I got on board and spoke to the captain and we said we’ve got to lift the gangway until we’ve got an agreement.

    “At 11am ratings and officers were informed there was going to be a pre-recorded Zoom meeting. After that two to three-minute call all the crew were made redundant.”

    Mr Jackson praised the captain for his “brave decision” to lift the gangway “for the safety of the crew”, saying security guards were “going to pull us off if we weren’t going to get off”. He said negotiations had come to an end when the company agreed to provide paperwork requested by the union.

    Mr Jackson said: “The crew are absolutely devastated. I’ve seen grown men crying on there because they don’t know where they’re going to go from today.”

    He said it is “very likely” the new crew “won’t be British seafarers”.

    Mr Jackson said the union would hold demonstrations at P&O ports and had a “legal injunction against the company”.

  • P&O likely to suspend all services for 10 DAYS – minister

    Transport minister Robert Courts said passengers should expect disruption to ferry routes in coming days, with P&O likely to suspend all services for as long as 10 days.

    He told MPs: “In taking this decision to make seafarers redundant, P&O have also today informed us they will be suspending services for approximately a week to 10 days while they locate new crew.”

    He told MPs that routes affected included Dover to Calais, Larne to Cairnryan, Dublin to Liverpool, and Hull to Rotterdam, but that “alternative provision” from other operators was being provided.

    Mr Courts said: “Passengers will still be able to travel to and from the UK, including across the Channel, with freight coming in and out of the country.

    “I must warn travellers they should expect some disruption over the coming days.”

  • What routes do P&O Ferries use?

    Before suspending services and recalling its ships to port, P&O operated a wide range of ferry routes throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland and Europe.

    P&O Ferries usually operate on routes such as Cairnryan in Wales to Larne in Northern Ireland, as well as Hull to Rotterdam and Liverpool to Dublin.

    And, the Dover to Calais route is popular with holidaymakers and the freight industry.

  • Government was ‘not given any advance notice’ by P&O

    Downing Street said the Government was not given any advance notice by P&O of the company’s plans.

    The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said officials were in “urgent” talks to find out what the company’s plans were.

    “We weren’t given any notice to this. We are speaking to the company to understand what approach it is taking,” the spokesman said.

    “We do not agree with the practice of fire and rehire and would be dismayed if this is the outcome they were seeking to achieve.”

    The spokesman said he did not believe the issue was discussed when Boris Johnson was in the UAE on Wednesday, even though the company is owned by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World.

  • What does P&O stand for?

    P&O is the abbreviation for The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company.

    It was founded in 1837 by London shipbroker Brodie McGhie, former Royal Navy clerk Arthur Anderson, and Dublin Shipowner Captain Richard Bourne.

    The company won contracts to transport mail via sea.

    This included a government contract to transport the precious written cargo between Falmouth, Vigo, Oporto, Lisbon, Cadiz and Gibraltar. 

    The first P&O ship was called the William Fawcett and was owned by Richard Bourne.

    It travelled on routes from London to Spain and Portugal in 1835.

  • Who owns P&O? 

    Although originally a British-owned company, P&O Ferries was sold to DP World, an international Emerati logistics company based in Dubai in 2006.

    It was taken over by investment company Dubai World shortly after.

    Then, in February 2019 DP World bought P&O Ferries back from Dubai World in a deal costing an estimated £322million.

    P&O, who employed 1,700 staff back in 2020 has suffered sustained financial losses of “£100m year on year” according to a P&O statement released on the day of the mass redundancies.

    A statement, released on March 17, 2022, said: “We are providing 800 seafarers with immediate severance notices and will be compensating them for this lack of advance notice with enhanced compensation packages.”

  • Downing Street condemns P&O’s actions

    P&O Ferries’ decision to make 800 staff redundant with immediate effect and to suspended crossings for the next few days was completely unacceptable, a spokesman for Boris Johnson said on Thursday.

    “The way these workers were informed was completely unacceptable,” the spokesman said.

    “Our sympathies are with these hard-working people affected during this challenging time, who have given years of in service to P&O.”

  • Nicola Sturgeon condemns P&O announcement as ‘appalling’

    Nicola Sturgeon has condemned ferry operator P&O’s decision to sack 800 seafarers and replace them with cheaper agency workers after claiming it is “not a viable business” in its current state.

    The firm, bought by Dubai-based logistics giant DP World in 2019, said it has suspended sailings “for the next few days”, including its route between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    On Twitter, the Scottish First Minister said: “I’m deeply concerned at P&O announcement – due to the importance to Scotland of Cairnryan/Larne route obviously, but also the impact on 100s of workers.

    “Fire & rehire is an appalling practice & offends the basic principle of fair work.”

  • Fired P&O workers clash with motorists in Dover

    Fired P&O Ferries workers in Dover have clashed with motorists after blocking a road close to the port.

    Dozens of employees who lost their jobs stood on the road with banners and flags saying “Stop the P&O Jobs carve up”.

    A lorry driver trying to enter the port began shouting and beeping at those in the road, before being told “we’re not moving”.

  • In pictures: Police arrive at workers protest in Dover

    Police officers then attended the scene close to the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union office in Dover.

    One of the protesters, who had worked for the company for decades, said: “I refuse to move from this road. All this service for nothing.

    “The police will have to take me away.”

    Demonstrators then began chanting “Support local jobs” before moving to another road.

    NINTCHDBPICT000719605262
    NINTCHDBPICT000719605262Credit: Gary Stone
  • P&O workers block road leading to Port of Dover

    Police have intervened after P&O workers blocked a road leading to the Port of Dover.

    Dozens of employees who lost their jobs on Thursday stood on the road holding banners and flags saying “Stop the P&O jobs carve up”.

    It came after buses carrying agency workers hired to replace them appeared to arrive at the Kent port.

    A lorry driver trying to enter the port began shouting and beeping at those in the road, before being told “We’re not moving”.

    Another driver, Richard Gamby, said: “I understand what they’re doing but I want to get home – I’ve been up since four.”

  • Passengers to be provided with alternative ferry crossings

    Passengers with trips booked today have been told their travel will be provided by alternative ferry companies, such as DFDS and Irish Ferries.

    Roads are now jammed after passengers queued up to catch their ferry – only to find out services were cancelled.

    One driver in Calais due to return to the UK said he had been waiting for a ferry since 6am.

    He added: “More than anything I’m frustrated at the fact nobody from P&O was there to help and advise … I’ve never had such shoddy service from anybody.”

  • Security guards ‘removing crew from ships’

    Security guards with handcuffs are attempting to board ships at Dover to remove crew, the RMT Union has claimed.

    General Secretary Mick Lynch said: “We are seeking urgent legal action and are again calling for the government to take action to stop what is fast turning into one of the most shameful acts in the history of British industrial relations.

    “If this happens at P&O it can happen anywhere and we are calling for mass trade union and wider public mobilisation and protest against the company.”

  • Passengers booted off ferries and told to ‘await instructions’

    The chaos unfolded this morning when workers were told to expect “serious disruption” at all of its ports.

    Passengers were booted off ferries and told to await “further instructions”.

    As cars began to snake around the motorway near Dover, the company then announced services had been suspended “for the next few days”.

    They added: “We are advising travellers of alternative arrangements.”

  • Department of Transport response over passengers

    Responding to the situation with P&O Ferries, 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.

    “There are other operators running services on cross Channel routes, so passengers and goods can continue to travel.

    “Ministers and officials will be speaking with P&O Ferries later today to understand more about the changes and the impact on staff and passengers.”

  • Statement from P&O Ferries

    P&O Ferries said in a statement: “In its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business.

    “We have made a £100 million 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.”

    The company added that, after “seriously considering all the available options”, it has taken the “very difficult but necessary decision” to hand immediate severance notices to 800 seafarers.

    Those sacked will be compensated for the lack of notice with “enhanced compensation packages”.

  • Coaches of agency workers hired to replace staff

    Workers currently on-board ships were instructed by unions not to leave.

    Coaches carrying agency workers hired to replace them are parked near ships at ports.

    There were reports that balaclava-clad security teams were sent on to ferries to remove the sacked staff.

  • Mass sacking slammed as ‘highly immoral’

    A mum whose husband and son have lost their jobs branded mass axing “highly immoral”.

    She told Kent Messenger: “When P&O suspended sailings this morning crews were waiting on the ships with no idea what was happening – even the captains didn’t know.

    “Then pictures emerged of three coach loads of foreign workers waiting at ports to take their jobs. They were already wearing P&O uniforms – yet the staff still hadn’t been told they were being let go.

    “They were told they had five minutes to get their stuff and get off the ships. These guys are week on week off workers who have called these ships home for half of the year every year.

    “They have personal effects in lockers which they can’t get to – clothes, bedding, photographs and in some cases financial documents which will be taken out and thrown.”

  • ‘All this service for nothing’

    One man, who has worked in ferry engine rooms since the 1980s, said: “I’m fuming, to be honest with you. I’ve known people who’ve been with the firm for years – this is no way to treat people.

    “It was just a short message this morning saying you’ve all lost a job, basically – all this service for nothing.

    “I’ve seen coach loads of agency crews waiting in the car park at Hyde services just waiting to come down – it’s as simple as that.

    “There’s going to be a protest here, one of the union guys just said if there’s no one working to come along and support.”

  • Labour calls move ‘scandalous’

    Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said: “This scandalous action shows sheer contempt for the workforce.

    “Unscrupulous employers cannot be given free rein to sack workers and replace them with agency staff.”

    P&O Ferries said in a statement: “In its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business.

    “We have made a £100 million 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.”

  • Who are P&O?

    P&O Ferries, which transports passengers and freight, operates four routes: Dover to Calais; Hull to Rotterdam; Liverpool to Dublin; and Cairnryan, Scotland, to Larne, Northern Ireland.

    It has 2,200 employees remaining in the UK.

    DP World was criticised for paying a £270 million dividend to shareholders at the end of April 2020 while P&O Ferries cut around 1,100 jobs as demand for travel collapsed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    P&O began operating ferries in the 1960s.

    Cruise line P&O Cruises is unaffected by the developments as it is a separate business owned by Carnival UK.

https://www.thesun.ie/travel/8520628/po-ferries-news-travel-advice-sacked-live-updates/ P&O Ferries news LIVE – Crew clash with drivers and Brits left stranded in France after company suddenly sacks 800 staff

Fry Electronics Team

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