The Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers has highlighted alleged “profound safety issues”, while a briefing for MPs seen by Der Spiegel says “an eight-week contract would cover up to 144 round-trip journeys before they leave the ship ‘to take a rest’
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The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) highlighted what it saw as “profound safety issues” with manning the P&O vessels.
P&O ferries between Liverpool and Dublin have resumed although the route was unaffected.
P&O Ferries is believed to be looking to resume service on its other eight ships by the end of the week.
However, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) confirmed on Tuesday that its officials were only on board one of them – the Pride of Hull – and had no confirmed appointments for the others.
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It came as the RMT claimed that new crew members – who the union says are being paid just £1.80 an hour – will be “inexperienced” on the ships.
According to the union, the previous crew on P&O’s Dover to Calais route would make 18 return trips per week in 12-hour shifts before taking a week’s paid rest.
However, the union claims it is “very likely” that the lower-paid agency workers will work up to eight weeks at a time and possibly longer.
A briefing for MPs seen by the Mirror said: “On the Dover-Calais route an eight week contract would include up to 144 round trips before they leave the ship for a rest break – ‘time out’. .”
The RMT added: “This raises profound maritime safety issues.”
RMT Secretary General Mick Lynch said: “These ships of shame must not set sail.”
Huw Merriman, Tory Chair of the Commons Transport Select Committee, said: “The question must be asked how using staff paying £1.80 an hour can meet our stringent maritime safety requirements.”
Labor Hull MP Karl Turner said stewards on ferries “don’t just give away pints behind the bar”.
He added, “It takes skill and experience, as well as safety and survival training.”
Minister of transport Grant Shapps told the Commons: “Staff need to be experienced and trained to maintain the highest possible standards.
“I have instructed the MCA to inspect the P&O ferries before they can be returned to service, including operational drills to ensure the new crew who intend to use them are safe and properly trained.
“If they aren’t, those ships won’t sail.”
A spokesman for P&O, quoted by the BBCinsisted that safety is a top priority and the new crewing management model will be used by many competitors.
He added: “They have recruited high caliber experienced seafarers who are now familiarizing themselves with the ships and going through all the mandatory training requirements set by our regulators.”
In a statement, the MCA said: “A team of assessors is currently on board P&O Ferries Pride of Hull conducting an inspection.
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“The other seven will also be inspected before they go out, but P&O has not confirmed these dates with us for these inspections.
“This is to ensure they comply with international regulations on manning and safe operations, particularly emergency procedures such as firefighting and ship evacuation.
The inspection focuses on operational exercises (i.e. the combat capability of the crews). Fireclustering passengers and evacuating a ship in an emergency) and ensuring that personnel have received adequate training and familiarization with the duties for which they are responsible.”
It comes amid fury over how P&O Ferries last week cut 800 crew members without notice and replaced them with agency workers who were said to be paid much lower.
Business secretary Kwarsi Kwarteng gave the company bosses the answers to 10 key questions by 5 p.m. on Tuesday.
He said the information provided by P&O would “inform next steps” but could lead to a “formal complaint to the relevant law enforcement agency”.
P&O said it had offered the axed crew what it said was “the largest compensation package in the UK naval sector” totaling £36.5million.
A spokesman said: “This has been an incredibly difficult decision for the company: to make this decision or to put the company into administration.
“It would have meant the loss of 3,000 jobs and the end of P&O Ferries.”
Meanwhile, the Commons’ Transport and Business Committees last night announced plans to question bosses at P&O Ferries and Dubai-owner DP World at a meeting tomorrow (Thursday).
https://www.mirror.co.uk/money/jobs/po-agency-crew-replaced-sacked-26530772 The crew at the P&O agency that replaced laid-off staff is allowed to make 144 round trips without time off.