P&O announced it would be sacking its staff and replacing them with an agency workforce as the ferry company announced it has been making huge financial losses. The sudden news was announced via a video call which sees a P&O boss deliver the glum update in front of a white background. The boss told staff their contracts would be terminated with immediate effect with the BBC showing the bleak footage online.
The grainy footage shows a P&O boss in a suit and delivered the miserable news in a monotone mood.
He told staff: “The company has made the decision for its vessels going forward, will be primarily crewed by third-party crew provider.
“Therefore I am sorry to inform you that this means your employment is terminated with immediate effect on the grounds of redundancy,
“Your final day of employment is today.”
BBC Political Editor Laura Kuessberg commented: “This is a grim way to tell staff they are losing their jobs … footage of the P&O redundancy message obtained by our colleagues at @bbcsoutheast.”
Despite the sacking, many of the staff are refusing to leave the ships docked in Hull in protest.
Union RMT says crewmembers were being replaced by foreign labour due to the financial squeeze.
The company said it will suspend operations for several days while it changes over staff.
P&O said: “In its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business.
“We have made a £100million loss year on year, which has been covered by our parent DP World.
“This is not sustainable. Without these changes, there is no future for P&O Ferries.”
Staff have been urged to sign up to these agencies if they wish to continue working but stress it does not mean they will have the same contract nor are guaranteed work.
A full statement read: “P&O Ferries plays a critical role in keeping trade flowing, supply chains moving, and connecting families and friends across the North and Irish seas and the English Channel. We have been at the heart of this service for years and we are committed to serving these vital routes.
“However, in its current state, P&O Ferries is not a viable business. 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.
“These circumstances have resulted in a very difficult but necessary decision, which was only taken after seriously considering all the available options.
“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.
“In making this tough decision, we are securing the future viability of our business which employs an additional 2,200 people and supports billions in trade in and out of the UK. And we are ensuring that we can continue serving our customers in a way that they have demanded from us for many years.”
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he would be speaking to the company as soon as he could to assess the situation.